News and outputs
23-27 April 2012: European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna
Katy Roucoux presented a poster, Abrupt vegetation transitions characterise long-term Amazonian peatland development (authors KH Roucoux, TR Baker, WD Gosling, E. Honorio Coronado, TD Jones, O Lahteenoja, and IT Lawson), on the palynological and sedimentological results from core QT-2010-1 from Quistococha, Peru. You can read the abstract here.
28-30 March 2012: BES TEG meeting
Freddie Draper and Tom Kelly gave presentations on their projects at a meeting of the Tropical Ecology Group of the British Ecological Society at Imperial College.
8 March 2012: Tropical peat meeting at Leicester University
Katy Roucoux and Ian Lawson led a one-day meeting which involved presentations of new projects and data, and discussions of some common methodological problems faced by tropical peatland researchers.
January 2012: Fieldwork in the Congo
Greta Dargie, Ian Lawson and Simon Lewis spent several weeks in the Republic of Congo searching for peatlands. Greta's PhD research, in collaboration with WCS Congo, aims to make the first systematic study of peatlands in the Congo Basin, developing the same kinds of themes that our group has been working on in Peru. Recent political developments mean that it is now safe, though still challenging, to work in the sparsely populated wetlands of the Congo Basin. The fieldwork involved long journeys on foot and by river, thousands of bees, dozens of tins of sardines, a very damp campsite, and some amazing scenery. The first sighting of peat came when the team stumbled across elephants' footprints, 30 cm deep in the peat layer of a palm swamp...
December 2011: Visits to Kew and Edinburgh
Katy Roucoux and Ian Lawson visited the pollen labs at Kew and Edinburgh in a quest for reference material to help pin down some of the pollen identifications from core QT-2010-1. The team has already compiled a substantial electronic database of pollen morphotypes and the LTFD reference collection is growing. Katy and Ian also discussed possible collaboration with colleagues at Kew on improving our understanding of the taxonomy of certain pollen types, especially the palms.
5 December 2011: SEM images of microfossils from Quistococha
Katy, Tom and Ian spent the morning working with an environmental SEM to produce images of fossil material from Quistococha, and some modern fern spores. The aim is to refine the pollen taxonomy by comparing SEM images of the fossil material with modern reference material.
25 November 2011: Tropical peat meeting at Nottingham University
Katy, Ian, Tom, Freddie and other colleagues at Leeds attended a one-day meeting organised by Sofie Sjorgersten and gave presentations of their work.
1 October 2011: Freddie Draper joins the team
Freddie has joined us at Leeds to study for a PhD, having just completed a BSc (Hons) in Ecology at Aberdeen. He co-organised an expedition to work on Peruvian forests as part of his BSc.
Freddie will be working under the supervision of Katy Roucoux, Tim Baker and Ian Lawson on the past and present vegetation and carbon dynamics of Peruvian peat swamps.
26 July 2011: Fieldwork Round Two
This summer saw the completion of our second round of fieldwork in the Peruvian Amazon.
Tom Kelly, Ian Lawson and Katy Roucoux spent three weeks in Loreto, continuing their work on the peat swamp at Quistococha and surveying the wetlands around Jenaro Herrera on the Rio Ucuyali. The majority of this work will form part of Tom Kelly’s PhD research; new peat cores and lake sediment samples were collected from Quistococha and will form the basis of Tom’s study of peat initiation and vegetation succession. Tom also measured the hydrological properties of the peat and the team collected samples of modern reference pollen material.
The trip culminated in a presentation at IIAP in Iquitos by Katy and Tom, which resulted in useful feedback on our preliminary pollen data from Quistococha.
The team received help and support from many colleagues in Peru, not least Jhón del Aguila Pasquel, Hugo Vásquez and Julio Iriaca, who gave invaluable assistance in the field; Dr Santiago Rivas Panduro and Victor Reategui, who took the time to show us some of the archaeological and zoological highlights at Quistococha; and Dr Luis Campos-Baca, Ricardo Farroñay and Dr Ángel Salazar Vega, who provided much support and hospitality at IIAP.
Graeme Swindles, Ed Turner and Chris Williams also undertook fieldwork at Aucayacu on the Rio Marañon in July as part of Graeme and Katy’s Royal Society-funded pilot study of the testate amoeba fauna.
24 June 2011: Radiocarbon grant awarded
Tom Kelly and Ian Lawson have been awarded a grant-in-kind from NERC for six radiocarbon dates in support of Tom's project. The grant is worth £3480.
18 March 2011: Fieldwork planning for July 2011 in progress
This year the team expects to return to collect more peat and lake sediment cores from Quistococha and a new site, Cocha Brava, which will be investigated as part of Tom Kelly's PhD on swamp/lake complexes. Meanwhile, Graeme Swindles and Ed Turner will be investigating raised mires to look at the potential for work on testate amoebae. It already seems likely that we will be going back to Peru in 2012.
11 March 2011: Visit to the OU
Katy Roucoux, Tim Jones and Ian Lawson visited our project partner Dr Will Gosling at the Open University to discuss the interpretation of our initial pollen data from Quistococha, and to discuss approaches to tropical pollen taxonomy.
February 2011: Royal Society research grant awarded
Graeme Swindles and Katy Roucoux have been awarded a research grant from the Royal Society. This is the first major grant to be leveraged from the initial NERC project. It will enable Graeme to join the team in Peru in July 2011 where he will be looking at testate amoebae.
January 2011: Tom Kelly visits Turku
Tom was kindly hosted by our friends at the University of Turku, Finland, where he spent time sampling their herbarium collections of ferns. He also gave a presentation about the project to the Amazon Research Team. Tom is making a special study of fern spore taxonomy as part of his PhD research.
October 2010: Tom Kelly joins the team
Tom will be studying the genesis of palm swamp/lake systems including Quistococha for his PhD.
October 2010: Documentary aired on Peruvian television
A 15-minute documentary about the project, including footage shot on field work, was shown on national television in Peru. You can now watch it here!
7 September 2010: British Ecological Society annual meeting
Tim Jones presented a poster about the NERC project which you can download here, while Tim Baker, Katy Roucoux and Geertje van der Heijden convened a session on "Understanding the impact of disturbance on plant communities" with invited guest speakers including Prof Hermann Behling (Göttingen) and Prof Frans Bongers (Wageningen).
July 2010: First fieldwork completed
A team led by Katy Roucoux took sets of cores from three sites:
Quistococha, near Iquitos: a Mauritia flexuosa palm swamp encircling a shallow lake (cores were taken from the swamp peats and from the lake)
Buena Vista: a tahuampa (seasonally-flooded forest)
San Jorge: a forested raised mire
As well as taking cores, the team established a new permanent forest plot at each site, took surface samples for pollen analysis, and installed pollen traps to be recovered in future years. The team, which included Tim B, Tim J, Euridice, Ian, Julio, Hugo, and Ruby, spent time at IIAP and stayed at the Tahuayo Lodge for part of the trip.