ESR 4 – Esther Githumbi
SUPERVISOR – Dr. Rob Marchant
INSTITUTION – University of York
I am based at The York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems (KITE), University of York. KITE works across Eastern Africa to understand ecosystem patterns and processes, how these interact with environment, biotic and human populations. The region encompasses some of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, at a range of taxonomic measures, and is characterised by steep gradients of climatic variability associated with tropical mountains and the transition from an oceanic to continental climate and high cultural diversity and associated land use strategies.
I will undertake palaeoecological research in the Amboseli and Mau ecosystem to characterise past landscape and ecosystem changes using a combination of fossil plant pollen, charcoal, and geochemistry, from radiocarbon-dated swamp deposits. Reconstructions of past human-environment interaction driven by natural climate variability will be used to re-evaluate current estimates of ancient land-use changes based on reconstructed population data. Key to this is the creation of high resolution palaeoecological reconstructions that allow direct links to be made with historical information sources and archaeological records. A core consideration of the project will be on how societies, landscapes and ecosystems have responded to climate change both currently and in the past under different conditions, so as to better understand how they may respond to future climate change.
Field work to collect sediment has already taken place.
The research will be the supervision of Dr. Rob Marchant and collaboration with Dr. Colin Courtney Mustaphi and with Rebecca M. Muriuki and Dr. Stephen Rucina who are affiliated partners at the National Museums of Kenya Palynology and Palaeobotany Section.
Namelok Ormakau swamp located in Amboseli, 50cm core section.