FW: funded PhD project on 'Late Quaternary history of eastern Bol
ivian dry forests'
khz at ansto.gov.au
Tue Mar 19 10:13:52 EST 2002
From: Mayle, Dr F.E. [mailto:fem1 at LEICESTER.AC.UK]
Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2002 2:48 AM
To: QUATERNARY at morgan.ucs.mun.ca
Subject: funded PhD project on 'Late Quaternary history of eastern
Bolivian dry forests'
Applicants are invited to apply for the following PhD project based at
the University of Wales Swansea, UK. Full funding may be available from
University of Wales studentships (deadline 31st March)
One NERC studentship.
Note that funding will go to the best qualified applicant applying to
the department for PhD study.
NERC PhD studentship topic:
'LATE QUATERNARY HISTORY OF THE CHIQUITANO TROPICAL DRY FOREST, EASTERN
Prof. F.A. Street-Perrott (University of Wales Swansea),
Dr. F. Mayle (University of Leicester),
Dr. T. Killeen (Conservation International).
The Chiquitano Dry Forest in eastern Bolivia is a critical global
conservation priority because it constitutes the largest intact block of
tropical seasonal dry forest in the world (120,000 km2), most of which
is completely undisturbed. This semi-deciduous forest dominates
Chiquitania, a geographic region in the eastern lowlands of the
Department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It is situated in a biogeographic
transition zone between: a) the humid evergreen Amazonian forests to the
north and the arid thorn scrub of the Gran Chaco to the south, and b)
the seasonally flooded savannas of the Beni to the west and the upland
Cerrado savannas and Pantanal wetlands to the east.
The aim is to use a range of palaeoecological techniques to reconstruct
the Late Quaternary history of this forest. This research can be used
to address several different research questions in differing, but
Test the hypothesis that the Chiquitano Dry Forest represents a refugium
that was formerly connected to other disjunct dry forest fragments in
tropical South America, constituting a 'Pleistocene Dry Forest Arc',
extending from Argentina and Bolivia to eastern Brazil. The long-term,
Late Quaternary history of this rapidly vanishing dry forest ecosystem
needs to be elucidated in order to understand properly the origin of its
floristic composition and high biodiversity.
The study area is located at a critical climatic transition zone
influenced by the warm, moist Amazon air masses from the north
responsible for the summer rainy season, dry anti-cyclonic trade winds
from the Atlantic in winter, and occasional northern advections of cold
polar fronts ('surazos') from the South Pacific Anticyclone over
Patagonia. Reconstructions of past vegetation change in the area may
therefore serve as a useful palaeoclimate proxy for determining past
interactions between these climate systems in the past.
c) Late Quaternary History of the Gran Pantanal wetlands
Large head-water lakes straddling the Brazilian border at the eastern
limit of the Chiquitano Dry Forest drain into the Gran Pantanal wetlands
of the Upper Paraguay River basin immediately to the east. The
hydrology of these lakes and wetlands are closely linked. The Pantanal
constitutes the world's largest tropical wetland ecosystem, defined as
'globally outstanding' in terms of its biological distinctiveness. An
understanding of the long-term vegetation and hydrological dynamics of
these lakes and wetlands over millennial timescales can potentially
provide important insights into explaining the current habitat diversity
and complexity of the Pantanal we see today.
The direction and focus of the PhD project will depend on which of the
above research questions the student wishes to address.
METHODS AND APPROACH
Sediment cores were obtained from 4 lakes in the study area by F. Mayle
in 2001. Two more lakes will be cored in 2002. These lakes were chosen
at or near ecotones where species are likely to have been most
responsive to past climate change. Preliminary sediment stratigraphy
suggests that these sequences could potentially span the last glacial
The student will be trained to use the following palaeoecological
techniques on one or more of the lake records: a) fossil pollen and
analysis to reconstruct past changes in plant communities (training by
F. Mayle), and b) stable carbon isotope analysis (bulk sediment and
compound-specific) to distinguish between C4 and C3 vegetation (training
by F.A. Street-Perrott). T. Killeen (Conservation International) will
provide access to botanical inventories and satellite imagery of the
The successful applicant should have a first or upper second class
degree in a relevant environmental subject. S/he will be a member of
the Tropical Palaeoenvironments Research Group, Department of Geography,
University of Wales Swansea, and will receive training in tropical
palaeoecology, transferable skills, and relevant laboratory techniques.
There will be opportunities for the student to undertake fieldwork in
Application forms for PhD research at the University of Wales Swansea
should be requested as soon as possible from Mrs Judith Morgan,
Postgraduate Admissions, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park,
Swansea SA2 8PP (j.a.l.morgan at swansea.ac.uk). Alternatively,
application forms can be downloaded from
http://www.swansea.ac.uk/admissions. A limited number of University
studentships for British/EC citizens are also available, for which
applications must be received by 31st March.
Dr. Francis E. Mayle
Department of Geography,
University of Leicester,
Leicester LE1 7RH,
phone: +44 (0)116 252 3831
fax: +44 (0)116 252 3854
e-mail: fem1 at leicester.ac.uk
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