Palaeocological evidence of ecosystem dynamics in Sumatra, Indonesia – Case studies of tropical mountains and mangroves

Palaeoenvironmental studies of past natural rainforests dynamics and its transformation including vegetation distribution, climate change and human impact in the past are needed in order to obtain a deeper understanding of future environment/ecosystem interactions in tropical ecosystems. Due to the complexity of tropical ecosystems and site-specific differences on the sedimentary process, it is very important to have data from multiple sites in order to better identify the dynamics and vegetation community responses under different conditions (e.g. human land use change, climate change). Palaeoecological data, in particular pollen, provide long-term records on vegetation and plant diversity dynamics on decadal, centennial and millennial scales. The reconstruction of past vegetation including rainforest transformations by humans and plant diversity dynamics including its reaction on past environmental changes provides an important contribution for understanding past landscape changes during prehistoric and historic times.

I will focus on palaeoenvironmental studies of past natural rainforests dynamics and its transformation by human activities. I will carry out the palynological analysis of sediment cores from different landscapes in Jambi province, Sumatra, Indonesia. The main aim is to reconstruct the climate and landscape-human interactions for the last ca. 10000 years using environmental archives from different landscapes from the submontane to the lowland.

Research goals in particular are:

  • Reconstructing past vegetation, plant diversity, fire and climate dynamics
  • Investigating the history of the landscapes transformation by human activities
  • Comparing the ecological responses of different landscapes from upland to lowland area to environmental variability (vulnerability/resilience)
  • Providing the evaluation of current and future environmental changes from a historical perspective

Specific locations representing different landscapes are selected for the Jambi Province:

  • Kerinci Seblat National Park (submontane rainforests)
  • Muara Jambi Temple (historical interactions with the landscape in Jambi lowland)
  • Berbak National Park (coastal inland peat rainforests)

Danau Njalau
Danau Njalau, Kerinci Seblat National Park, field picture September 2013, google maps link
Muara Jambi Temple
Muara Jambi Temple, one of the numerous temple structures in the complex, google maps link