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GAP3002 - Quaternary Palaeoecology

Module Content

This course considers the response of organisms to climate change on Quaternary timescales (the last 2 million years), in terms of movement, evolution and extinction, using both fossil and genetic evidence. It is structured as 12 topics, one for each week of the course, beginning with an introduction and overview, then the important long Quaternary terrestrial records, palaeoecology of the oceans, and an overview of the Quaternary history of the Earth's main biomes. This is followed by palaeoegenetics (including ancient DNA and molecular clocks), refugia, plant migration, individualistic communities, late Quaternary extinctions, global human impacts, and long-term implications for conservation policy. The course concludes with consideration of the role of Quaternary events for evolution.

Each week of the course consists of one lecture and one seminar. The seminar is lead by a student and discusses a published paper relevant for the week's topic. Students write three essays during the module, chosen from a list of 12 (one per week). Both seminars and essays are chosen to diversify the range of material under consideration. The course aims to present some of the main issues in Quaternary palaeoecology today, developed from a wide range of data types and written sources. It is assumed that students will be basically familar with field data collection (of any type), and are familiar with accessing scientific literature, mostly online through the QUB library system.


Prof. K.D. Bennett
Dr Maarten Blaauw


Two essays (40% each) 
Seminar 20%