miércoles, junio 11, 2014

PhD position in non-pollen palynomorphs at Ghent University, Belgium

 Nos ha llegado esta información desde la Sociedad Española de Paleontología.

PhD position in non-pollen palynomorphs at the Research Unit for Palaeontology, Ghent University, Belgium

Analysis of a unique 150,000-year archive of climate and ecosystem history from equatorial Africa (Tanzania): calibration and application of fossil non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs) as paleovegetation proxy

Research project — Recent advances in tropical African paleoecological studies involving the study of non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs, i.e. non-pollen micro-remains from fungi and selected groups of algae and vascular plants) have proved very useful to reconstruct past ecosystem dynamics and to separate the paleoecological signatures of natural climate variability from those of human impact more clearly. The exceptionally long and high-quality sediment archive of Lake Challa creates a very promising perspective for the study of fossil NPPs, which may tackle some key issues on (i) the ecological indicator value of the most common NPP types, (ii) the relationship between terrestrial fungi, visible through changes in fungal spore representation, and the current vegetation (i.e. host specificity), and (iii) the patterns and causes of past vegetation response to climate change. By establishing an ecologically indicative linkage between modern NPP types and environmental variables s! uch as vegetation types, soil conditions, herbivore species, and land use practices, we may elucidate past ecosystem responses to climatic variation and human impact more accurately. Within the scope of tracing the complexity of ecosystem dynamics at temporal and spatial scales, the NPP PhD project will therefore mainly focus on:

(i) A calibration study of NPP assemblages in modern soil surface samples along an altitudinal gradient of Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) in order to enhance the palaeoecological significance of NPP assemblages and to infer past environmental conditions more accurately. Using multivariate statistical analyses, NPP distribution along the altitudinal transect will be correlated to available detailed vegetation surveys from Kilimanjaro to establish the habitat preference of the fungi and other microbiota which produced the NPPs, and to reduce ambiguity in the interpretation of other vegetation proxies such as pollen, charcoal and phytoliths.

(ii) Comparing the altitudinal distribution of NPPs in soil surface samples with that in pollen rain collected at the same sites, to discriminate between local and distant components of NPP assemblages in soils (and lake sediments).

(iii) Analysis of fossil non-pollen palynomorph assemblages preserved in the long sediment record of Lake Challa as proxy indicators for past landscape change due to past climate variation. The NPP record will be interpreted in strong conjunction with other landscape-related proxies, such as pollen and charcoal, to clarify the impact of climate change on tropical savanna ecosystems, and its feedbacks to the global carbon cycle.

Profile — We are looking for a highly motivated individual with an MSc (or equivalent degree) in geology, geobiology or biology, and with a strong interest in Quaternary climate and ecosystem history. Research activities will include fieldwork and laboratory analyses using optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. A background in palynology or micropalaeontology is an advantage. Fluency in spoken and written English is required. Candidates should be able to work independently and in a team. The successful candidate will be offered a full-time Ph.D. position for four years in the research project. The applicant must be eligible for PhD studies. The candidate shall devote his or her time primarily to their own research studies, but occasionally be called upon to assist in organising practical exercises for students in the MSc programme. The research will be carried out at the Research Unit for Palaeontology at Ghent University, but the successful applicant will work! in close collaboration with Limnology research unit of the Biology Department at Ghent University.

How to apply — Please send a description of your past work, a statement of your research interest and motivation, a curriculum vitae (including grades, courses followed, the title of your master thesis and a list of any publications) as well as mail and e-mail addresses of two references. Send these by email to stephen.louwye@ugent.be Applications are accepted until the position is filled, but the applications should be received before September 1st, 2014. Students currently finishing their MSc are also invited to apply. The research project must commence during 2014.

For further informal enquiries on the position please contact:
Prof. Dr. Stephen Louwye
Research Unit Palaeontology – WE13
Krijgslaan 281/S8, 9000 Gent, Belgium
+32.(0)9.264 46 11

Reconstructing the Terrestrial end-Cretaceous Paleoenvironments in Europe

"Reconstructing the Terrestrial end-Cretaceous Paleoenvironments in Europe" - September 16-20th, 2014.


Aims and scope
This congress is a multidisciplinary meeting devoted to recent paleontological and geochronological advances, both in the marine and continental records, which allow envisaging the Maastrichtian and its boundaries under a global and integrated scope.
The organizers outlined various significant topics that hopefully will be of your interest.
- Geology and geochemistry of the paleoenvironmental changes.
- Biostratigraphy and geochronology. The Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary.
- Marine changes. Correlation with the terrestrial record.
- Successions and paleobiogeography of vertebrate and invertebrate faunas.
- Climatic and vegetation trends.

The organising committee also enjoys the occasion to inform you on the titles of invited talks:
1) Dr. Stephen Brusatte, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh “New Insights into the Extinction of the Dinosaurs”
2) Dr. Isabelle Cojan, Mines ParisTech - Géosciences “Continental Paleoenvironments in Southern France during the late Cretaeous”
3) Dr. J. Smit, University Amsterdam “The KPg Terrestrial and Marine record: the relative contribution of the Chicxulub impact vs the Deccan trap eruptions to the KPg mass-extinctions”
4) Dr. José Ignacio Canudo, Aragosaurus, Universidad de Zaragoza “The Southern Pyrenean geological and Palaeontological record: State of the art.

The Organizing Committee is planning a comprehensive congress with multidisciplinary scientific program including plenary conferences and communications. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore the geologic and paleontologic record of the Tremp basin by means of two fieldwork excursions.

Finally, find the new abstracts template (400 words) at the congress website http://tremp2014.icp.cat/

martes, junio 10, 2014

Las musarañas gigantes de Atapuerca mordían de verdad!

El hallazgo de unas depresiones pequeñas y delimitadas en un húmero de Talpa cf. europaea (top) en los niveles del Pleistoceno Inferior (TELRU) de la Sima del Elefante (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos) llamó la atención de todo el equipo de microfauna. Este pequeño resto ha sido el objeto de un estudio tafonómico completo donde se demuestra que estas alteraciones corresponden a una mordedura. Las mordeduras no son comunes en los pequeños mamíferos, y mucho menos con una morfología clara y delimitada que permita su estudio detallado.

Con el propósito de identificar el depredador se han comparado las dimensiones de las depresiones con la dentición de pequeños mamíferos carnívoros como Mustela nivalis y Mustela palerminea y también con la musaraña gigante de dientes rojos de TELRU, Beremendia fissidens. Los datos sugieren que ésta musaraña pudo ser la causante de la mordedura, lo que significa que tenía la capacidad de morder a presas más grandes que ella misma a pesar de carecer de la adaptación al consumo de pequeños mamíferos, más propia de los carnívoros. De este modo se confirma que complementaría su dieta insectívora con otras fuentes de proteína, lo que podría haber sido una forma de responder a las necesidades de su alta tasa metabólica.

El estudio ha sido publicado en la revista Historical Biology, en una investigación liderada por la aragosaurera Maria Bennàsar (en la fotografía) que ha contado con la colaboración de los también aragosaureros Gloria Cuenca-Bescós, Juan Rofes, Hugues A. Blain y miembros de Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES) como Isabel Cáceres y Rosa Huguet.

Os dejamos aquí la cita de la publicación:
M. Bennàsar, I. Cáceres, G. Cuenca-Bescós, R. Huguet, H.A. Blain & J. Rofes (2014): Exceptional biting capacities of the Early Pleistocene fossil shrew Beremendia fissidens (Soricidae, Eulipotyphla, Mammalia): new taphonomic evidence, Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology, DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2014.918611