Archaeology and Palaeoecology
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology (GAP)
Queen’s University Belfast
Belfast, BT7 1NN
Northern Ireland, UK
+44 (0)28 9097 5287
Measuring the rates of spread of plants and animals as a result of climate change.
The concept of spread is considered to describe the directional movement of an organism, often over many generations, into a new geographical area. The rate at which this occurs is an important, yet poorly understood, aspect of ecology.
A greater understanding of how species have reacted to past changes in climate and environments will not only give us a greater insight into the development of modern environments, but may also allow for more accurate predictions on the affects of current and future climate change on ecosystem dynamics. Therefore by helping us to understand the spread of a number of different species as a result of past climate change, this study will enable us to make better predications for the effects of future climate change on organisms.
My own research will focus upon calculating rates of spread for plant and animal taxa from the fossil record, as well as identifying the “refugial” regions from which the populations expanded. Refugia are to be located by identifying locations which held late glacial maximum populations of taxa, as well as identifying sites where species arrived during the early Holocene. Historically spread has been identified through a number of different techniques, most notably through the discovery of fossil material and identifying pollen thresholds which indicate the presence of a species within a geographical region. The rate of spread is therefore determined between the time of initiation and the time of arrival. I intend to examine the spread of plant species from Europe, eastern North America and tropical regions, as well as mammals and humans in Europe. My study will be aided by the inclusion of new genetic data which has not been available to many of the previous researches in this topic.
This study will aid our understanding of how and why rates of spread vary at different times in the past and in different locations, as well as identify regions that are likely be crucial for the survival of biodiversity during future periods of climatic adversity. It is believed that this research will be a crucial component in our knowledge of the ecological changes that will be faced by future climate change, which is a very important aspect of modern environmental research.
I undertook my undergraduate BSc Archaeology & Palaeoecology degree at Queen’s University. This was completed in 2007.