I meant to write this post as a retrospective on 2019 at the end of last year, which gradually faded into a hope to publish it in early January. It’s now unavoidably the middle of February and the ‘new’ year is well underway, but so many TPRG things happened in 2019 that a review is still very much in order! Here’s a whistle-stop tour of some highlights…
Farewells and hellos
Both Heather and Richard completed their PhDs last year, so huge congratulations to Drs Plumpton and Smith! In 2019 Heather also spent several months in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, thanks to a fellowship with the British Ecological Society, before starting work at the Walker Institute as an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow.
While it’s sad not to have Richard and Heather around any more, we’re very excited that Marco Raczka has joined the TPRG as a Postodoctoral Research Associate in Amazonian Palaeoecology (this post). He’ll be working on Frank’s new HERCA project over the next three years. Speaking of which… Continue reading
INQUA 2019, the quadrennial conference of the International Union for Quaternary Research, is taking place in Dublin over the next week, and we’re going to be there! Details of our poster sessions and presentations are below.
Josie has a talk entitled ‘Evaluating the resilience of traditional agriculture systems to climate change in the Peruvian Andes over the last 2000 years’ in the ‘Human-environment interactions in the late Quaternary: sources of evidence and applications 1’ session (29th Jul 2019, 16:45 – 18:30 in Liffey Hall 2, Level 1). You can read her abstract here.
James has a talk entitled ‘Millennial-scale history of Bolivian forest plots’ in the ‘Changing tropical landscape 2’ session (29th Jul 2019, 11:30 – 13:15 in EcoCem, Level 2). You can read his abstract here.
Oli has a poster called ‘Modelling the evolution of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest through the Quaternary in high spatial, temporal and taxonomic resolution’ in the Posters III session (29th Jul 2019, 14:30 – 15:15 in Liffey Hall A & B, Level 1), and is giving a talk called ‘The 3D Pollen Project: a new, free source of scans and 3D-printable models for outreach, engaging teaching, and research’ in the ‘Making the Quaternary relevant: Outreach and education’ session (27th Jul 2019, 16:45 – 18:30 in Liffey Meeting Room 2, Level 1). The abstract is here. You can find out more about the 3D Pollen Project on the project website, or on twitter.
And, while Frank won’t be at the conference (he’s doing fieldwork in Bolivia as part of a major new project – more on that another time), he and TPRG alumnus Richard are co-authors on Yoshi Maezumi’s paper ‘Examining the Role of Natural and Anthropogenic Fire Activity on the Biogeographic Distribution of the Amazonian Rainforest Ecotone (ARE)‘, also in the ‘Changing tropical landscape 2’ session.
We look forward to meeting you if you’re there!
As a new academic year begins, students return and trees get geared up for autumn, it feels like a good time to look back at the various things that have happened over the summer months. Josie kicked off this mini-series with a post on her fieldwork in the Peruvian Andes and James is working on one about his research trip to Bolivia with Frank, so for a bit of variety I thought I’d give an overview of my summer of conferences. It’s less exotic than going to South America, sure, but I still had a good time! And there have been quite a few to report on…
The season’s first conference was Intact Forests in the 21st Century, at Magdalen College Oxford. I have to admit, initially I felt like a bit of an impostor – after all, I work on Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, one of the most fragmented forests in the world – but I was there in connection with a side project we’ve been working on looking at Amazonia. There’s a long, ongoing and quite contentious debate about where the biome sits on a scale from ‘pristine’ to ‘anthropogenic’, so for a few months we’ve been surveying researchers about their definitions of key terms used in these discussions. Do these differ with the respondent’s disciplinary background? Is my perception of a ‘natural’ forest the same as yours? And – relevantly for this conference – what do people mean when they write or read ‘intact’? Our poster had some results from a preliminary analysis of the survey, showing the diversity of opinions among our 30-odd respondents – if you haven’t taken part and would like to, then get in touch!
Happy New Year! Josie and I got 2018 underway with three days in Plymouth, dodging the disruptive effects of Storm Eleanor at the QRA annual discussion meeting. It was an enjoyable conference, showcasing a variety of research relevant to our work.
The latest edition of the Past Global Changes (PAGES) Magazine was published yesterday, on the theme of ‘Sustaining Earth’s Biodiversity’, and it features three contributions from the TPRG team.
The sites discussed in Maca and Bronwen’s article, and their main plant species
The first, by Macarena and Northumbria University’s Bronwen Whitney, looks at how palaeoecology can shed light on the legacies of pre-Columbian people in Latin America’s modern ecosystems. It highlights Maca’s research on southern Brazil’s unique and ancient Araucaria forests (which has been part of the Jê Landscapes project, and which I’m continuing for my PhD), as well as Mayan breadnut palms in central America, and the chocolate forest islands and ice-cream bean cultivation of south-western Amazonia. It’s well worth a read, as are the research papers it discusses.
Heather also has two contributions in a mini-section reflecting on the PAGES Young Scientists’ Meeting 2017, an event she’s blogged about previously here (Palaeo-science in the Pyrenees). Her first article addresses the whys and (perhaps more importantly) hows of effective communication for palaeoscientists. Her second – equally important and closely linked – discusses the challenges of communicating the societal relevance of palaeo research, especially to funders and policymakers. Communicating research and its relevance is essential, and the insights and suggestions in these articles should be helpful starting points when considering it.
If you’ve got any questions or comments about the pieces, you can get in touch with Maca and Heather on twitter: @DrMacarenaLC and @HeatherPlumpton. The whole magazine edition can be read or downloaded here.
I am aware that not many people had the great opportunity like me to attend PAGES OSM 2017. Therefore, I wanted to share some of the key things that got stuck with me after the conference.
There was an outstanding list of presentations and strong sessions. I am not aiming to pick a favourite, but I would like to highlight the following ones: “From the Mediterranean to the Caspian: paleoclimate variability, environmental responses and human adaptative strategies” with convener Ana Moreno et al, “Do species move or die” with convener N. Whitehouse et al, and specially “Disturbance dynamics across special and temporal scales” with convener Graciela Gil-Romera et al. Papers discussed there were largely multidisciplinary, and generated good discussions.
Morillo de Tou – the beautiful location of the YSM
I recently attend the PAGES (Past Global Changes) YSM (Young Scientists Meeting) as well as the OSM (Open Science Meeting) 2017 in sunny Spain. The YSM was particularly exciting – a group of 80 early career researchers met in the Pyrenees, at the restored village of Morillo de Tou.
Morillo de Tou
Morillo de Tou
The spectacular surroundings were matched by spectacular science, with a combination of great talks and posters as well as breakout group discussions and workshops. The schedule was pretty packed, but we made time for some star gazing with local astronomers and a night of traditional Aragon music and “dancing” in the moonlight. Overall, I thought the YSM was an excellent opportunity to meet other young scientists, and discuss issues of particular import to our community.
The ACC conference centre in Liverpool lit up at night – a great venue with excellent vegan food choices
Last week I attended my first British Ecological Society Annual Meeting and I still don’t think I’m fully recovered. With around 1200 delegates, 12 sessions running in parallel at any one time, lunchtime workshops and socials every night, it was a pretty intense experience. But of course it was worth all of the exhaustion; I met a lot of new people (as well as catching up with a few old friends), listened to some really great presentations, participated in several workshops, and got to present some early results of my own PhD work.
My views on the International Palynology and Palaeobotany Congress XIV IPC X IOPC
Hosted at Salvador Bahia, Brazil, between the 23rd and 28th of October
This is the first time I go to this joined conference and I have to say I am glad I made it. It is definitely an important event to know what is happening in the palynology world, as well as to let other know what you are doing. There were far too many names that did not make it, but there were abundant number of presentations.
It all started on Sunday 23rd evening with the opening ceremony, where each member of the committee gave the welcome. The speeches were followed by the signing of the Brazilian and the Bahia anthems by a talented Brazilian lady accompanied by a local guitarist. This was then followed by a traditional capoeira musical group that played a large round of songs that felt far too long for the taste of most. Capirinhas, local beer and typical Bahian food was waiting for us to wake us up again and start the networking.
As many know, Mariah is visiting us for 6 months here at TPRG. She is currently doing her PhD in Brazil, and is co-supervised by Frank Mayle.
Mariah has done great contribution to our group and has participated of the discussions and conferences. Her last participation was on this year’s QRA Postgraduate Symposium, hold in September.
We asked her to give us her impression of the QRA conference and share the poster she presented. Here is what she said:
“It was an excellent opportunity to participate in the 21st QRA Postgraduate Symposium at University of Nottingham. I meet many Quaternary students, learned different tools and views from the past. It was a great way to learn and improve my own ideas.
The program included a tour at the British Geological Survey, great speakers such as Professor Colin Waters and Professor Melanie Leng, and also a training course with Steve Hutchinson. This was all followed by a great dinner and social events at night.
Looking forward to the next year event, in Royal Holloway, University of London!”
Click here the pdf to Mariah’s poster
Mariah with her poster at the QRA conference
Delegates at the conference. Can you spot Mariah?
Centre for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture -CENA/USP
University of São Paulo