General information

Module title Global Change, Ecological Crisis And Nature Conservation: Lessons From Ecology And Palaeoecology
Language English
Module lecturer Prof. UAM dr hab. Piotr Kołaczek, Prof. dr hab. Mariusz Lamentowicz
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position Professor, adiunkt
Faculty Faculty of Geographical and Geological Sciences
Semester 2021/2022 (winter)
Duration 30


Module aim (aims)

The lecture provides information about novel techniques investigating past global changes using biotic and abiotic indicators. Especially important in this context are high resolution (preferably annual) multi-proxy studies revealing in detail how environmental changes – including human impact – have disturbed various types of natural ecosystems. Terrestrial archives (e.g. soils, lakes and peatlands) give an opportunity to reconstruct precisely past climatic and human induced changes. From each of those archives several biotic or abiotic proxies (e.g. testate amoebae, plant remains pollen, plant macrofossils, chironomids) can be extracted. Those proxies are used to reconstruct past environmental variables such as temperature, precipitation or soil wetness. Furthermore, long-term ecology methods can also be used to reconstruct the land-use changes e.g. deforestation and soil erosion. The lecture presents theory, methods and several case studies of scientific research on the recent climatic changes and human impact. what is more, it also shows the importance of combination of neo-ecology and palaeoecology as the source of highly relevant information that improves palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

Basic ecology knowledge


Week 1 Introduction: Holocene and the last millennium perspective of the global changeWeek 2 Ecology and palaeoecology – how they interact?Week 3 General information about methods (from the field to the laboratory)Week 4 Natural archives of the past ecosystems: lakes, peatlands, soils and tree ringsWeek 5 Biotic versus abiotic proxies: pollen, plant macrofossils, diatoms, chironomids, tree rings, geochemistry and stable isotopesWeek 6 Multiproxy high resolution approach – case studies from the different parts of the worldWeek 7 Long-term ecology in conservation biologyWeek 8 1. Practicals: Lake and peat depositsWeek 9 2. Practicals: Pollen, spores and non-pollen palynomorphsWeek 10 3. Practicals: Pollen and spores – data interpretationWeek 11 4. Practicals: Plant macrofossilsWeek 12 5. Practicals: Testate amoebaeWeek 13 6. Practicals: Interpretation of the diagrams

Reading list

Berglund, B. E., editor. 1986: Handbook of Holocene palaeoecology and palaeohydrology. John Wiley & Sons.Birks, H. H. and Birks, H. J. B. 2006. Multi-proxy studies in palaeolimnology. Veget Hist Archaeobot 15, 235-251.Birks, H. J. B. and Birks, H. H. 1980: Quaternary palaeoecology. London: Arnold.De Vleeschouwer, F., Chambers, F. M. and Swindles, G. T. 2010. Coring and sub-sampling of peatlands for palaeoenvironmental research. Mires and Peat 7 (2010/11), 1-10.Froyd, C. and Willis, K. J. 2008. Emerging issues in biodiversity & conservation management: The need for a palaeoecological perspective. Quaternary Science Reviews 27, 1723-1732.Lotter, A. 2003: Multi-proxy climatic reconstructions. In Mackay, A., Battarbee, R. W., Birks, H. J. B. and Oldfield, F., editors, Global change in the Holocene, 373–383.Mackay, A. W., Battarbee, R. W., Birks, H. H. and Oldfield, F., editors. 2003: Global change in the Holocene. London: Arnold.Roberts, N. 1998: The Holocene: an environmental history. Wiley-Blackwell.Robertson, I., Froyd, C., Gagen, M. and Hicks, S. 2009. Climates of the past: evidence from natural and documentary archives. Journal of Quarternary Science 24, 411-414.Van Leeuwen, J. F. N., Froyd, C. A., Van Der Knaap, W. O., Coffey, E. E., Tye, A. and Willis, K. J. 2008. Fossil pollen as a guide to conservation in the Galápagos. Science 322, 1206.Warner, B., editor. 1990: Methods in Quaternary Ecology. Geological Association of Canada.Willis, K. J., Araujo, M. B., Bennett, K. D., Figueroa-Rangel, B., Froyd, C. A. and Myers, N. 2007. How can a knowledge of the past help to conserve the future? Biodiversity conservation and the relevance of long-term ecological studies. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. 362, 175-186.Willis, K. J. and Birks, H. J. B. 2006. What Is Natural? The Need for a Long-Term Perspective in Biodiversity Conservation. Science 314, 1261-1265.