Early Stage Researcher/PhD Student
York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems
University of York
I am interested in adopting a multidisciplinary approach to wetland conservation especially how wetlands are importance sources of information both historical and modern that can be used in environmental policy formulation and ecological modelling. I have been involved in two wetland ecological studies under different management strategies in Kenya.
- A modern ecological wetland studies in a protected ecosystem i.e. the Nairobi National Park in 2010 where the effects of water quality on macrophyte distribution across the National park analysed.
- A palaeoecological study on a mixed ownership (county government and local community) peri urban wetland in Central Kenya 2011-2012.
My doctoral research will focus on how East African landscapes have responded to climate change and human impacts so as to better understand how they may respond to future climate change. This will be through swamp sediment to recover pollen, fungal spores and charcoal data sets to provide a vegetation composition/distribution profile, assessment of high severity human impacts and the occurrence of fires along a time series profile. The study sites will cover a range of environments, presenting a mixed topography between the Rift Valley and adjacent uplands.
|2013-present||Early stage researcher and PhD student||Environment Department, University of York|
|2012-2013||Research Intern||Palynology and Palaeobotany section, National Museums of Kenya|
|2008-2011||MSc Zoology: Biology of Conservation||College of Biological and Physical Sciences, University of Nairobi, Kenya|
|2006-2010||BSc Environmental Conservation and Natural Resource Management||College of Biological and Physical Sciences, University of Nairobi, Kenya|
|2009||Research Intern||Soil sciences and biometrics departments|
Description of PhD
Title: Long-term ecosystem, societal and landscape dynamics in East Africa: A multiproxy analysis of swamp sediments
Supervisor: Dr. Rob Marchant
Description of thesis:
The study will focus on the late Holocene environmental changes through the use of different proxies (pollen, fungal spores and charcoal) as direct evidence of changes in vegetation composition and distribution over time, occurrence of fires and human activities such as grazing.
The aim of the study will be to determine temporal ecosystem and land use changes in the Kenya Rift Valley (Ewaso basin), the Amboseli ecosystem (Kenya) and the Pangani basin in the Mt. Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania.
This will be achieved through the following objectives:
- Determining and reconstructing the vegetation changes in the late Holocene through high resolution pollen and fungal spores analysis.
- Reconstructing (local and regional) Holocene fire-regime changes at high (ca. 5-20 yr) resolutions and inferring (local to regional) Holocene vegetation dynamics that can be correlated with fire-regime changes.
- Obtaining high-resolution reconstructions of human impact that can be correlated with fire regime changes, by using pollen and fungal spore indicators of anthropogenic activity.
- Documenting the environmental changes along an age depth curve and comparing them with available historical archive analyses and archaeological information.
I have been involved in field work in various ecosystems in Kenya:
- Animal counts in Tsavo National Park in 2010.
- Marine ecosystem assessment (Gazi mangrove and Kanamai beach) in 2010.
- Effects of increased elephant population in Meru National Park, Kenya in 2011.
- Comparison of understory vegetation in Muguga forest, Kenya in 2012.
Charcoal Processing at York.
1. Open PAGES Focus 4 Workshop “Towards a more accurate quantification of human-environment interactions in the past”. University of Leuven, Belgium. 3-7 February 2014.
2. Environment Department Post Graduate Research Conference. University of York, UK. 20-21 February 2014. (Co-Organiser)
3. CHIESA SHORT COURSE “Vegetation from space and from the ground”. ICIPE – African Insect Science for Food and Health, Nairobi, Kenya. 17-22 March 2014.
4. 13th International Swiss Climate Summer School “Linking Land Use, Land Cover and Climate Change”. Oeschger Centre, Bern, Switzerland. 31st August – 5th September 2014.
- Courtney Mustaphi, CJ; Githumbi, E; Shoemaker, A; Degefa, AZ; Petek, N; van der Plas, G; Muthoni, R; Rucina, SM; Marchant, R. 2014. Ongoing sedimentological and palaeoecological investigations at Lielerai Kimana and Ormakau Swamps, Kajiado District, Kenya. A report to the local authorities of Kimana and Namelok, Olive Branch Mission Africa Operations, and the National Museums of Kenya Palaeobotany and Palynology Section. REAL contribution 001. 29 April, 2014. 32 p. Courtney Mustaphi, CJ; Githumbi, E; Mutua, J; Muthoni, R; Rucina, SM; Marchant, R. 2014. Ongoing sedimentological and palaeoecological investigations at Nyabuiyabui wetland, Kiptunga Forest Block, Eastern Mau Forest, Nakuru District, Kenya. A report to the Mau Forest Conservation Office, Kenya Forest Service, and the National Museums of Kenya Palaeobotany and Palynology Section. REAL contribution 002. 4 May 2014. 29 p.
- Courtney Mustaphi, CJ; Githumbi, E; Mutua, J; Muthoni, R; Rucina, SM; Marchant, R. 2014. Ongoing sedimentological and palaeoecological investigations at Nyabuiyabui wetland, Kiptunga Forest Block, Eastern Mau Forest, Nakuru District, Kenya. A report to the Mau Forest Conservation Office, Kenya Forest Service, and the National Museums of Kenya Palaeobotany and Palynology Section. REAL contribution 002. 4 May 2014. 29 p.