(30 credits; Term 1)
Anson Mackay, Helen Bennion, Jonathan Holmes, Vivienne Jones
To provide an introduction to quantitative palaeoecology and its application to issues of climate change and aquatic pollution.
The course illustrates the application of quantitative techniques with specific reference to the analysis of palaeolimnological data (lake sediment records). Palaeolimnology is a sub-discipline of Quaternary Science in which recent advances in quantitative data analysis of wide relevance have been made. Examples of the use of quantitative techniques in other areas of palaeoecology and Quaternary Science are also provided. The detailed syllabus covers the following topics:
- Principles of quantitative environmental palaeoecology
Nature of palaeoecological and palaeolimnological data
Reconstructing late Quaternary chronologies
Precision & accuracy in environmental chemical data
Microfossil proxy records
Calibration training sets and exploratory data analysis
Multivariate data analysis
Transfer function development
Environmental reconstruction: acidification, eutrophication and climate change
Recent developments in quantitative reconstructions
Course assessment is based upon a 3,500 word scientific paper requiring the description analysis and interpretation of a palaeolimnological dataset introduced during the course. Emphasis in assessing the work will be to assess skills in two areas: i) quantitative analysis of multivariate palaeoecological data; ii) presentation and interpretation of these data with respect to an issue of recent environmental change.
The course is based upon lectures, fieldwork, practicals and class discussion
By the end of this course, in which the fieldwork, practical exercises and the assessed course work form integral parts, students should:
- Understand key concepts in environmental palaeoecology
- Obtain a working knowledge of palaeolimnological field techniques, particularly coring sediments and developing modern biology-environment training sets
- Obtain a working knowledge and understanding of a range of quantitative methods used in palaeolimnology and paleoecology
- Have experience in exploring relationships in multivariate data, analysis of biostratigraphic data and quantitative environmental reconstruction.
- Critically understand the application of quantitative palaeoecology to issues of recent environmental change