PhD project:

Pleistocene and Holocene environmental changes in neotropical ecosystems with a focus on Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest in South America hold the largest rainforest ecosystem on Earth, and play a significant role in global climate, hydrology, carbon cycle, and biodiversity. Despite the importance of these ecosystems to modern and future global environmental change relatively little is known about its past.
In this project, late Quaternary environmental dynamics will be investigated using several already available lake and swamp sediment cores from different regions in South America. Multi-proxy studies by innovative temporal high-resolution pollen, charcoal, sediment analysis, radiocarbon dating and multivariate data analysis will be applied.
Of special interest is the reconstruction of late Pleistocene and Holocene environmental changes from different regions in particular
(1) vegetation change and plant diversity dynamics,
(2) climate changes including the dynamic of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the role of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events,
(3) fire history and its impact on ecosystems as well as
(4) past human impact. We want also to study the timing of vegetation and climate change in different regions, its driving forces as well as the response time of vegetation change on variations in precipitation and seasonality.
Understanding past environmental change and the ecological response will provide important insights to understand modern and to predict future changes.
This project will be an important contribution to the Global Change research and will also allow to further expand international collaboration and exchanges.

  • Wang, B.; Hapsari, K. A.; Horna, V.; Zimmermann, R.; Behling, H. (2022): Late Holocene peatland palm swamp (aguajal) development, carbon deposition and environment changes in the Madre de Dios region, southeastern Peru. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 594, p. 110955. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2022.110955
  • Wang, B.; Horna, V.; Heckmann, M.; Hapsari, K. A.; Zimmermann, R.; Behling, H. (2023): Holocene environmental changes inferred from an oxbow lake in a Mauritia palm swamp (aguajal) in the Madre de Dios region, southeastern Peru. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 312, p. 104863. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2023.104863
  • Wang, B.; Costa, M. L.; Valente, G.; Santos, P.; Behling, H. (2024): Holocene vegetation dynamics, carbon deposition, sea level changes, and human impact inferred from the Lagoa da Fazenda core in the Baía de Caxiuanã region, Northern Brazil. Quaternary Science Reviews 327, p. 108520. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2024.108520

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