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Holocene reconstruction of terrestrial habitats and dispersal pathways in the Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic Islands

Project Description

Project Rationale:
Terrestrial environments of the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic present extreme challenges for life. However, during the last glacial period (and previous periods), Antarctic terrestrial life faced even more extreme environmental conditions, in particular with a drastic reduction in available terrestrial habitats (1). However, our current understanding of terrestrial biological range changes and dispersal processes in Antarctica as a consequence of changing environmental conditions throughout glacial cycles remains unclear. A combination of peat cores, monoliths, and pollen traps obtained in recent years in BAS, SOGES, and collaborating projects along the length of the Antarctic Peninsula and Scotia Arc provide a unique opportunity to advance this field. This project will use them to reconstruct vegetation dispersal and distribution (pollen, spores) and other biological proxies (e.g. guano-derived geochemistry) (2), contained invertebrate and microbial community elements (3)) across the latitudinal range from South Georgia (53°S) to northern Alexander Island (69°S). We will analyse, over short- and long-term, dispersal processes and the impacts of major drivers of change (e.g. climate) on life on land across this paradigmatic region for studies of climate change. The use of moss/peat cores allows, in particular, inference of biological processes occurring in summer, increasing the biological relevance of our reconstructions.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


1) Convey et al (2009) Exploring biological constraints on the glacial history of Antarctica. Quaternary Science Reviews, 28, 3035-3048.
2) Roberts et al (2016) Past penguin colony responses to explosive volcanism on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14914
3) Roland et al (2017) Taxonomic Implications of Morphological Complexity Within the Testate Amoeba Genus Corythion from the Antarctic Peninsula. Protist, 168, 565-585.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 32.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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