Treub-Mij member Lisa Becking has received a prestigious personal VIDI grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). She will be able to continue her work on tropical marine lakes by consolidating her appointment at Wageningen University and Research and strengthening her own research group. Lisa was already a member of the Young Academy.
We would like to congratulate Lisa with this impressive accomplishment!
A research report by Daniel Perez-Pinedo (Instituut voor Biodiversiteit en Ecosysteem Dynamica, Universiteit van Amsterdam). The resulting masters thesis has been awarded the East-West Seed Graduation Prize for Plant Sciences 2020 of the The Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities.
The Eocene–Oligocene Transition (EOT) (~33.9Ma) is characterized by climate cooling and paleogeographic change and constitutes one of the most remarkable time intervals in the Cenozoic. This climate transition had a major impact on SE Asia, one of the most biodiverse areas and tectonic active regions in the world. However, terrestrial vegetation response in SE Asia across the EOT transition remains poorly understood.
The Cenozoic vegetation dynamics of Myanmar have been scarcely documented, yet are of great interest to unravel paleogeographic and paleoclimatic history. The family Sapotaceae is of particular concern since it has been a dominant component of SE Asian megathermal lowland wet forests ever since the early Eocene. However, their genera delimitation, origins, and direction of evolutionary change across the EOT remain uncertain. The Central Myanmar Basin (CMB; Myanmar) holds a sedimentary record ranging from upper Eocene – lower Oligocene, which is subdivided into the Yaw and Shwezetaw formations respectively. This sedimentary record presents an excellent opportunity to study the development of the SE Asian forests across the EOT.
In this project I joined the Myanmar Paleoclimate and Geodynamics Research group which focuses on geodynamic, tectonic, paleoclimatic, and paleoenvironmental studies of the Burmese sedimentary archives over the last 120 Ma. The last MyaPGR expedition took place in January 2020. It was led by Dr. Alexis Licht and consisted of Dr. Pierrick Roperch and PhD candidate Jan Westerweel (both from Université de Rennes), Dr. Amy Gough (Royal Holloway, University of London), and myself (Universiteit van Amsterdam). The main goal of the expedition was to report changes in palyno-assemblages across the EOT revealed by the main pollen markers.
The expedition operated in the south of the CMB located at the southern edge of the eastern Himalayan orogen and the Indochinese margin (Figure 1). We traveled to the Minbu sub-basin and visited 6 geological sections of scientific interest where we sampled for pollen, biological markers, fossil wood, amber, and also collected samples in order to conduct paleomagnetic dating (Figure 2). In particular we focused on the Yaw and the Shwezettaw formations, ranging from the late Eocene to the Early Oligocene respectively.
The samples were processed at the University of Amsterdam and pollen were examined under light microscopy (LM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The palynological data were analyzed with a cluster analysis tool CONISS that is based on a broken stick model. We also applied ordination multivariate analysis such as Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) and non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS). We observed differential palyno-assemblages resembling changing vegetation across the tropical Eocene into the cooler Oligocene. We also reported different depositional environments across the transition. We interpreted these changing trends to be derived from potential global cooling, increased aridity, and the progressive uplift of the Indo-Burman Ranges (IBR). The EOT reveals itself as one of the main drivers of paleoenvironmental dynamics leading to a pronounced terrestrial reorganization within terrestrial vegetation related to climatic and biogeographic dynamics in Myanmar, possibly extensive to SE Asia.
Having had the opportunity of going to the tropics to conduct fieldwork has resulted in a greater personal engagement in the project as well as a better understanding of the topic. I acquired a better grounded in situ understanding of both the ecological context (vegetation, forest composition) and the geological context regarding lithology and sedimentology of the outcrops of our interest in the Minbu sub-basin. Finally, having had the opportunity of working as a junior member of a well-structured professional research team which consisted of both international and Burmese researchers was both enriching and professionally and culturally challenging.
Nieuw-Guinea is het grootste tropische eiland in de wereld en herbergt veel, tot nu toe nog intacte ecologische gradiënten – van mangroven tot tropische alpiene graslanden. Dat is ongeëvenaard in de Aziatisch-Pacifische regio. Er is nooit een poging gedaan om het volledig aantal soorten vaatplanten van Nieuw-Guinea kritisch te catalogiseren. Tot nu toe.
In Nature is de eerste en enige door experts geverifieerde checklist van de vaatplanten van Nieuw-Guinea en de omliggende eilanden gepubliceerd. De openbaar beschikbare checklist bevat 13.634 soorten (68% endemisch), 1.742 geslachten en 264 families – wat suggereert dat Nieuw-Guinea floristisch het meest diverse eiland ter wereld is. Peter van Welzen: Vakkennis bleek essentieel voor het samenstellen van checklists in het digitale tijdperk: alleen vertrouwen op online taxonomische bestanden zou het aantal soorten met 22% hebben doen toenemen. Rodrigo Cámara: Het ontdekken van nieuwe soorten vertoont geen tekenen van afvlakking en de onderzoekers bespreken stappen om botanisch onderzoek in de ‘Laatste Grote Onbekende’ te versnellen.
Peter van Welzen: De checklist vergemakkelijkt het determineren van exemplaren. Dit is belangrijk bij verschillende soorten onderzoek, variërend van ecologie tot etnobotanie.
Door de uitbraak van het coronavirus en de daarmee gepaard gaande economische onzekerheid heeft de Treubmij momenteel besloten tot nader orde geen onderzoeksvoorstellen in behandeling te nemen. We denken daarbij niet alleen aan onze eigen financiële buffer, maar ook aan de grote onzekerheden bij het programmeren en doen van veldonderzoek op dit moment.
Met hulp van de Treub Maatschappij heeft Prof. Tinde van Andel in 2019 veldwerk kunnen doen in Kameroen bij de Baka Pygmeeën, samen met de Franse postdoc Sandrine Gallois. Deze laatste heeft voor dit onderzoek de tweede prijs gewonnen in de L’Oreal for women in science competitie. Een verslag is hier te vinden.
Here you can find information on the yearly symposium organised by the Treub foundation together with the University of Amsterdam.
Date: 18th of October 2019
Time: 14:00-17:00 (starting time was changed on 08-10-2019!)
Location: Science Park, Building G, Room G2.10
14:00-14:10 WELCOME & OPENING
14:10-14:30: Characterization of phytoliths in mid-elevation Andean forests
Seringe Huisman (University of Amsterdam/Treub grant awardee)
14:30 –14:50: Extinction-driven changes in frugivore communities on tropical islands: worldwide and in Mauritius
Julia Heinen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
14:50 – 15:10: Are the current Amazonian fires unprecedented?
N.H. McMichael (University of Amsterdam)
15:10 – 15:30: On the relationship between tiger conservation and water management
Jasper Griffioen, Hanne
Berghuis & Ewa van Kooten (Utrecht University)
16:00 – 16:45: Assembling the diverse rain forest flora of SE Asia by evaluating the fossil and molecular record in relation to plate tectonics
Robert J. Morley1,2 (1Palynova, 2Southeast Asia Research Group, Royal Holloway University of London, UK)
17:00: DRINKS– Science Park 904, IBED Common Room, C4.222
BIOSKETCHES OF THE SPEAKERS & ABSTRACTS
Seringe Huisman(University of
Amsterdam/Treub grant awardee)
Biosketch – Seringe is currently finishing her Master’s in Biology at the
University of Amsterdam. During her Bachelor’s program, she became interested
in Tropical Ecology and did an internship with Dr. Crystal McMichael in
Tropical Paleoecology. She analyzed fossil charcoal and phytoliths from
Ecuadorian lake sediments, reconstructing Holocene vegetation history from the
western Amazonian lowlands.
She continued her research in
Paleoecology during her Master’s project, this time in a mid-elevation Andean
setting. Thanks to grants provided by the Treub Maatschappij and the Amsterdam
University Fund, she got the chance to perform fieldwork on the eastern Andean
flank in Ecuador. Her project led to the characterization of new
mid-elevational palm phytoliths, which were previously unstudied and enable
comprehensive local vegetation reconstruction.
Abstract – Characterization of phytoliths in mid-elevation Andean
Mid-elevation Andean forests are some of Earth’s most diverse ecosystems,
yet their ecological history remains understudied. We provided the first
reconstruction of mid-elevation Andean vegetation (400 years) using phytoliths,
which are silica bodies produced by many Neotropical plants that preserve
in fossil records. Unlike pollen, that is wind-dispersed, they represent
local-scale vegetation dynamics. The Andean phytolith assemblages showed the
potential to indicate changes in the cloud base position through time, which
strongly influences the distribution of many plant and animal species.
Julia Heinen(University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Biosketch – Julia
Heinen has completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Amsterdam. During
this time she became interested in extinctions of fruit-eating animals on
islands and published her first paper and large database on this topic. She is
now halfway through her PhD in Island Macroecology at the University of
Copenhagen at the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate. For this, she
is still working as an island macroecologist on the effects of extinction of
fruit-eating animals on plants. Besides the global scale island comparisons,
she is investigating the frugivore community at local scale in Mauritius and
the Krakatau Islands. Julia is also Student-at-Large at the International
Biogeography Society, representing young biogeographers. She enjoys explaining
her research with videos (juliaheinen.nl).
Abstract – Extinction-driven changes in frugivore communities
on tropical islands: worldwide and in Mauritius
Island communities are most vulnerable to extinctions and this
affects the interactions between species. We have particularly lost a lot of
large, fruit-eating animals. These large frugivores are the ones
capable of dispersing the largest seeds, and their loss will in
turn affect the plants that are dependent on them. Small and isolated
islands have lost the highest proportion of
their frugivore community, with many islands losing almost all native
seed dispersers. Julia Heinen will discuss extinction-driven changes
in frugivore communities on islands worldwide and at a local scale,
on Mauritius, famous for the extinction of the Dodo.
Crystal N.H. McMichael (University of Amsterdam)
Biosketch – Crystal McMichael is Assistant Professor at the Department of
Ecosystem and Landscape Dynamics (University of Amsterdam). She is a
paleoecologist, tropical ecologist, and biogeographer. Her research focuses on
past fire and vegetation change across tropical ecosystems, and the role of
humans and climate change in structuring those dynamics. She is also the Vice
President of Conferences for the International Biogeography Society.
Abstract – Are the current Amazonian fires unprecedented?
The recent fires across Amazonia have attracted large amounts of academic
and public attention. In this talk, I will explore the spatial and temporal
patterns of fires in Amazonia. I will put the present fire regimes in the
context of those seen in the past, and discuss implications for the future.
This talk will highlight ongoing work that we hope to submit for publication
Jasper Griffioen(Utrecht University)
is professor of Water Quality Management at Utrecht University (2011 to date)
and expert researcher at TNO Geological Survey of the Netherlands (1991 to
date). He is specialised in environmental hydrology and geochemistry within the
framework of sustainable management of soil and water resources. He performed studies for a wide variety of
geographical settings and a broad range of environmental management issues,
ranging from an acid crater lake in Indonesia to disposal of radioactive waste
in the deep subsurface of the Netherlands. Many of his projects refer to the
risks and impact of anthropogenic measures on groundwater and subsequent
effects on drinking water and groundwater-dependent ecosystems. At TNO
Geological Survey, he pays attention to the
geochemical and hydrological characterization of the subsurface, which has
given him extensive insights in geo-scientific surveying of our environment as
well as its importance. Preferably, he combines field campaigns with modelling
As member of the former ministerial Dutch Technical Committee on
Soil, he was involved in c. 100 ministerial advices during October
2007 – March 2016. He has been an expert in several cases for Dutch Courts of
Justice as well as for the Netherlands Commission of Environmental Assessment.
His research frequently reaches Dutch national newspapers and other media.
Abstract – On the relationship
between tiger conservation and water management
are less than 4000 wild tigers alive. The Global Tiger Initiative aims to
double the number of wild tigers in 2022 relative to 2010. The Terai at the
foot of the Himalayas is the most important conservation area of tigers.
Clearly, habitat conditions are of key importance to double the tiger
population. Typically, the tiger habitat consists of free roaming deer, which
rely on open grasslands for grazing. The grasslands areas are deteriorating
(e.g. overgrown by forest) which threatens the deer and consequently tiger
habitats. The hydrology and river morphodynamics are two abiotic factors that
seem to control the grassland dynamics in the Terai. Associatedly, the impact
of water management measures needs attention, where the following question may
become raised: what is the impact of gravel extraction in the river floodplain,
what is the impact of intake of river water for irrigation. Two studies will be
briefly presented that address these two factors: one of them focuses on the
hydrology of the Karnali River in Western Nepal. This river is the western
boundary of Bardia National Park, where c. 80 tigers exist. The other addresses
the groundwater hydrology at Bardia NP, including the interaction with the
Biosketch: Robert (Bob) Morley was
introduced to palynology by the late John Flenley, and was John’s first
research student, and was further inspired by Jan Muller from the
Rijksherbarium in Leiden. After completing a PhD thesis on the Late Quaternary
palynology of Sumatra and Malaysia he joined Robertson Research International,
a geological consultancy company as ‘Tertiary palynologist’ mainly working in
SE Asia and West Africa. In 1986 he was acting manager for a short while at the
Robertson Bogota office, where he met Henry Hooghiemstra and Carina Hoorn for
the first time in a remote field on the Sabana de Bogota!
In the early 1990’s he joined the British Geological Survey
overseas division, and set up a palynology lab for the Indonesian Government in
Jakarta, after which time he established the consultancy company Palynova,
together with his wife Santi, which provides expertise in biostratigraphy to
petroleum exploration companies and government research laboratories.
His major research interests are: evolution of tropical rain
forests, resolving stratigraphic problems using biostratigraphy, and especially
using the methods of ‘sequence biostratigraphy’ to develop a better
understanding of sequence stratigraphy. A further primary aim is to ensure that
unpublished petroleum industry archives of biogeographic interest are brought
into the public domain. He authored a book ‘Origin and Evolution of Tropical
Rain Forests’ published by Wiley, and has published over 120 papers on
biostratigraphy and SE Asian geology.’
Abstract – Assembling the diverse rain forest flora of SE Asia by
evaluating the fossil and molecular record in relation to plate tectonics
In the 1960’s, the renowned Russian botanist Armen Takhtajan published a
treatise suggesting that Southeast Asia formed the birthplace of the
angiosperms. This idea prevailed for 40 years, but today, the opposite seems
more likely, that Southeast Asian rain forests are the youngest of the three
major rain forest blocks. The ultra-diverse flora of the Southeast Asia has
become established largely as a result of immigration following different
phases of plate tectonic collision during the Cenozoic. However, trying to
piece together the details of the tectonic events that led to the different
plate tectonic and palaeoclimatic scenarios that facilitated the different
phases of floristic immigration into the region leaves many unanswered
questions. There are major issues regarding the timing of plate collisions, the
positions of plates and microplates through time, the areas of origin of the
main clades and the timing of floral and faunal dispersals. This discussion
builds on the palaeoclimatic maps and dispersal events proposed recently by
Morley (2018) firstly by examining Late Cretaceous to Paleocene dispersals from
Africa to the Indian Plate, and secondly by an evaluation of dispersals from
India to SE Asia during and after the Palaeogene collision of India with Asia. Thirdly,
the history of upland Sundaland floras over time is evaluated, from the pollen
record of gymnosperms and temperate angiosperms from unpublished petroleum
exploration wells, contesting the timing and direction of the rotation of
Borneo into its present position during the mid-Cenozoic. To move forward, on
the one hand detailed palynological and palaeobotanical evaluations are needed
from the African Late Cretaceous, and the Palaeogene of both northern India and
the Southeast Asian region (the most recent studies of Palaeogene leaf floras
from Sumatra and Borneo was by Geyler and Heer in the 1870’s). This needs to be
coupled with novel evaluations of plate tectonics prior to the Indian collision
with Asia, and for the Sunda region utilising new dating that is emerging for
the multiple non-marine basins that formed across the region during the
Morley, R.J. (2018). Assembly and division of
the South and South-East Asian flora in relation to tectonics and climate
change Journal of Tropical Ecology34:209–234.
Dr. S.E.T. van der Meij and S. Bähr (GELIFES, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean – 26 July – 17 August 2019
Coral reefs encompass the highest biodiversity
of any marine ecosystem. Stony corals provide a large number of habitats that
are home to various invertebrate species, many of which live in a close
symbiotic relationship with a specific host coral. In an environment that is
teeming with symbiotic relationships the minute and easily overlooked
coral-dwelling gall crabs of the family Cryptochiridae represent a prime
example of obligate symbiosis. These crabs are named after their close
relationship with their coral hosts; they cause the development of a gall by
modifying their hosts’ tissue.
The reefs along Bonaire’s coast are amongst the
healthiest reefs in the Caribbean, however they are relatively understudied
compared to nearby Curaçao and other islands with a strong research
infrastructure. In this study we aimed to collect occurrence data of three
Atlantic gall crab species (Fig. 1) over
depth intervals along the Bonaire coast, to better understand the distribution
of symbiotic species on coral reefs. In combination with coral cover
measurements the results of this study provided us with baseline data about the
status of Bonaire’s reef. Moreover, using the same approach as a similar study
carried out on the reefs off Curaçao in 2015, it allows us to compare the
results between the two islands.
We studied 25 dive sites along the west coast
of Bonaire and around Klein Bonaire using 5-m2 belt transects (10m x
0.5m) at three different depths (8m, 12m, 18m), resulting in a surveyed area of
375 m2. Within each transect we measured the diameter of all corals
known to host gall crabs, and counted the number of dwellings on each individual
Our observations of the crabs Troglocarcinus corallicola and Kroppcarcinus siderastreicola represent new species records for Bonaire. Direct comparisons of coral cover data and gall crab density between Curaçao and Bonaire provides interesting insights in the status of the two reef systems. On Bonaire 19 out of 22 known host corals were observed in the transects, compared to 15 out of 22 of Curaçao. Strikingly, the number of examined coral colonies on Bonaire was with 4023 more than twice as high as the number of colonies examined on Curaçao (1874 colonies). The crab density of Opecarcinus hypostegus was with 6,3 crabs per m2, however, exactly the same at both localities. Troglocarcinus corallicola had with 5,22 crabs/m2 a slightly higher density on Bonaire than on the reefs off Curaçao (4,02 crabs/m2). Unfortunately the dwelling data for K. siderastreicola had to be excluded from the analyses due to some misidentifications of their dwellings in part of the study.
Our results suggest that Bonaire’s reef system
has a significantly higher coral cover than the reefs on Curaçao. Using further
statistical analyses we will check for significant species level differences
between the two islands, as well as between the various dive sites off Bonaire.
Certain sites are heavily impacted by divers or industry (e.g. cruise ships,
salines), whereas others are further away from human activities or rarely
visited by divers – and we are keen to see if this impacts the distribution of
the symbiotic gall crabs.
Dr. J.J. Beltman and drs. M. de Fouw (Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Leiden, The Netherlands)
Sub-Saharan Africa where life expectancy is short, supportive and palliative
care for severely ill patients are hardly available. Ethiopia is one of the
countries where lack of access to pain relief and palliative care are apparent.
In our study we assessed palliative care and support programs for women, mostly
affected by cervical cancer and breast cancer. Breast and cervical cancer are
the leading cancers among women in Ethiopia, with 15244 and 6294 new cases each
identified with cervical and breast cancer present in advanced stage where
curative treatment is no longer an option. Comprehensive palliative care
services are needed but scarce, strong analgesics like morphine are hardly
available and knowledge of palliative services in health facilities is limited.
We aimed to
understand the current practices of palliative care, and the needs and
preferences of both patients and their caregivers. We conducted in-depth
interviews with terminally ill women (34) and their caregivers (27), and key
informant interviews (16) with community leaders, religious leaders, health
care professionals and policy makers.
All patients received support from the palliative care programs, but stated that it was insufficient to meet their needs. Most women (4 out of 5) suffered from moderate to severe pain, half of the women frequently experienced moderate to severe difficulties with sleeping or eating.
“She (the volunteer provider) has
been caring. However, I am not happy and lose hope when my pain comes back. I
then feel uncertain about my life. I feel like am dying. It is bad to live
under uncertainty, losing my ability to make decisions about myself. The
volunteer at times fails to help under such circumstances” (42 years old
Besides pain, and difficulties with sleeping or eating women suffered from other complaints like cough and vaginal bleeding, that strongly limited their daily activities.
“I bleed every time. It clots and clots and brought offensive smell since I do not have support to clean it and of course no one comes closer. I got weaker and weaker. Only recently volunteers came to help me – thank God.” (38 year old female patient)
Women felt very worried about their situation, and did not often talk about their worries and concerns with their caregivers. Religion did support women in feeling more hopeful about their situation.
often related to the patients, in half of the cases a daughter or son cared for
their own mother. Neighbours and other community members supported less than 1
in 4 patients. Most caregivers experienced sad feelings while providing support
to terminally ill women and experienced the work as consuming. At the same
time, they felt confident about the care they were providing although they
missed information on the diagnosis, signs and symptoms.
professionals, community leaders, religious leaders and policy makers
recognized the existing gap in palliative care provision and lack of knowledge
on palliative care services. They pointed out the lack of organization of care,
lack of skilled providers, lack of budget and low priority that is given to
palliative care services.
study we found that only a selected group of women was included in the support
programs, although the programs define palliative care in a broad definition
including chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Considering the
population size in the areas where the programs are active, many women with
palliative care needs are not identified.
demonstrates that there is an unmet need for palliative care services, that
palliative care services should focus more on pain and symptom relief including
training of related caregivers, and palliative care services should be
integrated with existing community networks, religious structures and local and
national health systems.
Prof. Dr. Tinde van Andel (Naturalis Biodiversity Center)
The Baka (Pygmies) are former hunter-gatherers, living in the tropical rainforest near Lomie, southeastern Cameroon. The goal of the van Andel et al. expedition (1 April-25 April 2019) was to collect botanical vouchers for the edible forest plants that were reported earlier during interviews by postdoc Dr. Sandrine Gallois on wild food collection and dietary preferences among Baka in the village of Le Bosquet. The fieldwork has been completed: we collected 104 botanical vouchers of wild edible plants from secondary and primary forest. We matched all Baka names mentioned during the previously conducted interviews, with the exception of four species. These are collected at the moment by Gallois herself, after she received field training in the collection, documentation and preservation of ethnobotanical specimens by the applicant.
We (van Andel, student
Heger and Gallois) also collected several edible species that were not in the
preliminary database. A total of 11 different wild yams were collected, and
eight different Irvingia species. Our
results show that the Baka make ingenious use of the Central African
rainforest, characterized by large-fruited trees adapted to dispersal by large,
ground-dwelling mammals (elephant, chimpanzees, gorilla’s, etc.). Many of these
large fruit species, some with unpalatable flesh, are cut open to obtain the
seed kernels, which can only be consumed by humans after long and complicated
detoxification techniques, such as roasting, soaking in running water,
smoke-drying, etc. These seed kernels are rich in proteins and fats, and form
an important component in the Baka diet.
We made sure to
include field assistants of different age, gender and specializations (e.g.,
healers, hunters, grandmothers), which allowed us to document several types of
ritual food: specific plant species only eaten by elephant hunters,
post-menopausal women or small boys after their circumcision ceremony. Most of
the wild food species are collected in primary forest, and we documented
several edible species that have not been previously documented as eaten by
humans in the literature (e.g., roots of Palisota
barteri, stems of Anchomanes
difformis and seven species of edible ferns). As all Baka are now somehow
involved in agriculture, we could not make a distinction in wild plants use
between farmers and true hunter-gatherers. However, the botanical variety of
wild-gathered food plants remains very high, even though people now also spend
time in cultivating cassava and bananas. Unfortunately, illegal logging of Baillonella toxisperma (Sapotaceae) and Diospyros (Ebenaceae) in the area
deprives the Baka of some of their most valuable sources of edible fruits and
oil. The Baka villagers requested our help in writing a book on their wild food
plants, to which we agreed.
Het onderzoek van Seringe Huisman, dat zij tijdens haar masterstage deed en dat werd ondersteund door de Treub Maatschappij, is gepubliceerd in Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Het complete verhaal is hier te downloaden.