Accessibility statement

Colin Courtney Mustaphi



I have been conducting research through multiple projects related to environmental sciences that are of relevance to the public and policy makers. Research themes focus on how ecosystems function, their processes of change, and how humans interact with their environment. This includes long-term ecological responses to climate change, human land-use modifications, and impacts of human activities as populations continue to rise. I am involved in projects looking at how changes to fire regimes impacts ecosystems, pollution in the urban and rural landscapes, invasive species and I continue to examine these human-environment interactions at study sites in the Arctic, east Africa, United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as involvement in global-scale database projects. I continue to do research in a multidisciplinary framework and engage with non-academic partners; such as city councils, conservation and development NGOs, and private companies. 


Long-term ecology

I use sediments to reconstruct past environmental variability using sedimentological and palaeoecological methods. By studying the past we can start to understand how ecosystems might respond to future climatic and land-use changes. My recent research focuses on characterising past climate, vegetation, and disturbance regime variability to understand the mechanisms influencing ecosystem processes and how human activity has modified landscapes.

I have been involved in previous and on-going projects in the Arctic, temperate mountain forests, and the mountains and savannahs of tropical East Africa. Please visit my project blog for more details about recent work and activities. 



Researcher, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University, Sweden, and University of York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems


Researcher, NERC Innovation/ARUP, University of York

2013-2015 Experienced Reseacher Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (ITN), University of York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems
2009-2013 PhD Earth Sciences, Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Carleton University
2008-2009 Research assistant, Department of Geography and Enviromental Studies, Carleton University
2006-2008 MSc Geography, University of Ottawa


BA Geography and History, University of Ottawa




British Institute in Eastern Africa

Departmental roles

University roles

Public-Science Outreach:



United Kingdom projects:

Assessing impacts of Green Infrastructure on Urban Air Quality

G‌lobal projects:

African projects:

Adaptation & Resilience to Climate Change (ARCC) funded under the Research Project Grant Sustainability and Resilience - Tackling climate and environmental changes 2016 (Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) (2016-2019).

Project Overview of Resilience in East African Landscapes (REAL) - Rob Marchant, Paul Lane


North American projects:

Arctic projects:




Research group(s)

York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems (KITE)


Selected publications


Full publications list


Peer-reviewed articles:


Hamidu AS, Shirima DD, Courtney Mustaphi CJ, Marchant R, Munishi PKT. accepted 2017. The impact of land use and land cover change on biodiversity within and adjacent Kibasira Swamp in Kilombero valley, Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology.

Courtney Mustaphi CJ, Gajewski K, Marchant R, Rosqvist G. 2017. A late Holocene pollen record from proglacial Oblong Tarn, Mount Kenya. PLOS One 12(9): e0184925. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0184925 [Data available from open access Harvard Dataverse]

Marchant R, Courtney Mustaphi C, Githumbi E. 2017. Entangled ecosystem-people-animal interactions: perspectives from East African savannas. Past Global Changes Magazine (PAGES), 25(2), 80-81. DOI:10.22498/pages.25.2.80

Davis EL, Courtney Mustaphi C, Pisaric MFJ. Accepted in press 2017. Fire histories and futures of Columbian and Rocky Mountain forests, western Canada. Western Geography.

Hempson G, Parr C, Archibald S, Anderson T, Courtney Mustaphi, CJ, Dobson A, Donaldson J, Morrison T, Probert J, Beale C. Accepted July 2017. Continent-level drivers of African pyrodiversity. Ecography. [Data available from Dryad]

Courtney Mustaphi CJ, and Pisaric MFJ. 2017 in press. Forest vegetation change and disturbance interactions over the past 7500 years at Sasquatch Lake, Columbia Mountains, western Canada. Quaternary International.

Hawthorne D*, Courtney Mustaphi CJ*, Aleman JC*, Blarquez O, Colombaroli D, Daniau A-L, Marlon JR, Power M, Vannière B, Han Y, Hantson S, Kehrwald N, Magi B, Yue X, Carcaillet C, Marchant R, Ayodele O, Githumbi EN, Muriuki RM. 2017 in press. Global Modern Charcoal Dataset (GMCD): a tool for exploring proxy-fire linkages and spatial patterns of biomass burning. Quaternary International. *Equal contributions.

Patterson RT, Crann C, Cutts J, Courtney Mustaphi CJ, Nasser N, Macumber A, Galloway J, Swindles G, Falck H. 2017, in press. New occurrences of the White River Ash (east lobe) in Subarctic Canada and utility for estimating freshwater reservoir effect in lake sediment archives. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 477, 1–9.

Sánchez Goñi, M. F., Desprat, S., Daniau, A.-L., Bassinot, F. C., Polanco-Martínez, J. M., Harrison, S. P., Allen, J. R. M., Anderson, R. S., Behling, H., Bonnefille, R., Burjachs, F., Carrión, J. S., Cheddadi, R., Clark, J. S., Combourieu-Nebout, N., Courtney-Mustaphi, C. J., Debusk, G. H., Dupont, L. M., Finch, J. M., Fletcher, W. J., Giardini, M., González, C., Gosling, W. D., Grigg, L. D., Grimm, E. C., Hayashi, R., Helmens, K., Heusser, L. E., Hill, T., Hope, G., Huntley, B., Igarashi, Y., Irino, T., Jacobs, B., Jiménez-Moreno, G., Kawai, S., Kershaw, P., Kumon, F., Lawson, I. T., Ledru, M.-P., Lézine, A.-M., Liew, P. M., Magri, D., Marchant, R., Margari, V., Mayle, F. E., McKenzie, M., Moss, P., Müller, S., Müller, U. C., Naughton, F., Newnham, R. M., Oba, T., Pérez-Obiol, R., Pini, R., Ravazzi, C., Roucoux, K. H., Rucina, S. M., Scott, L., Takahara, H., Tzedakis, P. C., Urrego, D. H., van Geel, B., Valencia, B. G., Vandergoes, M. J., Vincens, A., Whitlock, C. L., Willard, D. A., and Yamamoto, M. 2017. The ACER pollen and charcoal database: a global resource to document vegetation and fire response to abrupt climate changes during the last glacial period. Earth System Science Data Discussions, doi:10.5194/essd-2017-4

Outridge PM, Sanei H, Courtney Mustaphi CJ, Gajewski K. In press 2017. Holocene climate change influences on trace metal and organic matter geochemistry in a varved Arctic lake sediment over 7,000 yearsApplied Geochemistry 78, 35–48.

Finch J, Marchant R, Courtney Mustaphi CJ. 2016. Ecosystem change in the South Pare Mountain bloc, Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania. The Holocene.

Davis EL, Courtney Mustaphi CJ, Gall A, Pisaric MFJ, Vermaire JC, Moser KA. 2016. Determinants of fire activity during the last 3500 years at a wildland-urban interface, Alberta, Canada. Quaternary Research 86, 247–259.

Marlon, J. R., Kelly, R,. Daniau, A.-L., Vannière, B., Power, M. J., Bartlein, P., Higuera, P., Blarquez, O., Brewer, S., Brücher, T., Feurdean, A., Gil-Romera, G., Iglesias, V., Maezumi, S.Y., Magi, B., Courtney Mustaphi, C. J., Zhihai, T. 2016. Reconstructions of biomass burning from sediment charcoal records to improve data-model comparisons. Biogeosciences 13, 3225-3244.

Githumbi, E, Courtney Mustaphi, C, Marchant R. 2016. Holocene ecosystem, social and landscape dynamics in East Africa. Quaternary International 404(B): 199–200. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.175

Courtney Mustaphi, CJ, Githumbi, EN, Shotter, LR, Rucina, SM, Marchant, R. 2016. Subfossil statoblasts of Lophopodella capensis (Sollas, 1908) (Bryozoa: Phylactolaemata: Lophopodidae) in the Upper Pleistocene and Holocene sediments of a montane wetland, Eastern Mau Forest, Kenya. African Invertebrates 7(1): 39-52. doi: 10.3897/afrinvertebr.57.8191. [Data available at Harvard Dataverse]

Courtney Mustaphi, C and Marchant, R. 2016. A Database of Radiocarbon Dates for Palaeoenvironmental Research in Eastern Africa. Open Quaternary, 2: 3, pp. 1–7. [Data CARD2.0] [Data at Harvard Dataverse

Kehrwald, N.M., Aleman, J.C., Coughlan, M., Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Githumbi, E.N., Magi, B.I., Marlon, J.R., Power, M.J. 2016. One thousand years of fires: integrating proxy and model data. Frontiers of Biogeography 8(1): 155-159.

Marlon, J. R., Kelly, R,. Daniau, A.-L., Vannière, B., Power, M. J., Bartlein, P., Higuera, P., Blarquez, O., Brewer, S., Brücher, T., Feurdean, A., Gil-Romera, G., Iglesias, V., Maezumi, S.Y., Magi, B., Courtney Mustaphi, C. J., Zhihai, T. 2015. Reconstructions of biomass burning from sediment charcoal records to improve data-model comparisons. Biogeosciences Discussions 12 (22) pp.18571-18623. doi:10.5194/bgd-12-18571-2015, 2015

Courtney Mustaphi, C J, Gedalof, Z, Daniels, L D and Pisaric, M F J. 2015. Paleoecological and Sedimentological Data from: “A Classification for Macroscopic Charcoal Morphologies Found in Holocene Lacustrine Sediments”. Open Quaternary, 1: 5, DOI: [data available]

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Davis, E.L., Perreault, J.T., Pisaric, M.F.J. 2015. Spatial variability of recent macroscopic charcoal deposition in a small montane lake and implications for reconstruction of watershed-scale fire regimes. Journal of Paleolimnology 54 (1): 71–86. DOI: 10.1007/s10933-015-9838-2   [VIDEO ABSTRACT]

Coleman, K.A., Palmer, M.J., Korosi, J.B., Kokelj, S.V., Jackson, K, Hargan, K, Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Thienpont, J.R., Kimpe, L.E., Blais, J.M., Pisaric, M.F.J., and Smol, J.P. 2015. Tracking the impacts of recent warming and thaw of permafrost peatlands on aquatic ecosystems: a multi-proxy approach using remote sensing and lake sediments. Boreal Environment Research 20 (3): 363–377.

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Rucina, S.M., Marchant, R. 2014. Training in emerging palaeoenvironmental approaches to researchers on the dynamics of East African ecosystems. Frontiers of Biogeography 6, 169-172.

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J. and Pisaric M.F.J. 2014. A classification for macroscopic charcoal morphologies found in Holocene lacustrine sediments. Progress in Physical Geography 38: 734-754. doi:10.1177/0309133314548886 [data available]

Morris, J., Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Carter, V., Watt, J., Derr, K., Pisaric, M.F.J., Anderson, R.S., and Brunelle, A. 2014. Do bark beetle remains in lake sediments correspond to severe outbreaks? A review of published and ongoing research. Quaternary International 387, 72–86. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2014.03.022

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J. and Pisaric M.F.J. 2014. Holocene climate-fire-vegetation interactions at a subalpine watershed in southeastern British Columbia, Canada. Quaternary Research 81(2): 228-239. DOI: 10.1016/j.yqres.2013.12.002

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J. 2013. 10 cents 1967: Making the difference. Moneta – A Publication of the Ottawa Numismatic Society 4(6) August-September-October: 244-247. [Also in French: 10 cents 1967: Faire la distinction].

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J. and Pisaric M.F.J. 2013. Varying influence of climate and aspect as controls of montane forest fire regimes during the late Holocene, south-eastern British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Biogeography 40(10): 1983-1996. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12143

Vermaire, J.C., Pisaric, M.F.J., Thienpont, J.R., Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Kokelj, S.V., and Smol, J.P. 2013. Arctic climate warming and sea ice declines lead to increased storm surge activity. Geophysical Research Letters 40(7): 1386-1390. DOI: 10.1002/grl.50191

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Gajewski, K. 2013. Holocene sediments from a coastal lake on northern Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 50(5): 564-575. Doi:10.1139/cjes-2012-0143


Liz Storer, Anna Shoemaker, Annemiek Pas Schrijver, Geert W. van der Plas, Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi (eds.). 2017. Field diary. Issue 2 Mar 2017. 45pp.

van der Plas, G., Githumbi, E.N., Courtney Mustaphi, C.J. 2016. Life of a pollen grainIn: Land and People. Volume 1, January 2016. pp 24-25. Printed at: Tiskarna Radovljica, Slovenia. ISBN: 978-0-9573771-5-8 [Link to full issueDOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2296.3609

Courtney Mustaphi CJ, Shoemaker, AC, Githumbi EN, Kariuki R, Muriuki RM, Rucina S, Marchant R (2015). Historical ecology perspectives of changes in Amboseli, Kenya. GLP Newsletter – Newsletter of the Global Land Project, Issue 12, November 2015: pp 26-29. [Link to full issue]

Esther N. Githumbi, Rebecca Kariuki, Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi, Rebecca Muriuki, Stephen M. Rucina, Rob Marchant. 2015. Recent environmental changes in Eastern Mau and Amboseli, Kenya. BIEA 2014-2015 annual report, pp 22.

Annemiek Pas Schrijver, Geert W. van der Plas, Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi (eds.). 2015. Field diary. Issue 1 Jul 2015. 17pp.

Esther N. Githumbi, Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi, Rob Marchant. 2014. Natural and anthropogenic causes of environmental change in the Amboseli and Mau Forest regions. BIEA 2013-2014 annual report, pp 11-12.

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Githumbi, E., Mutua, J., Muriuki, R.M., Rucina, S.M., Marchant, R. 2014. Ongoing sedimentological and palaeoecological investigations at Nyabuiyabui wetland, Kiptunga Forest Block, Eastern Mau Forest, Nakuru District, Kenya. 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.[PDF]

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Githumbi, E., Shoemaker, A., Degefa, A.Z., Petek, N., van der Plas, G., Muriuki, R.M., Rucina, S.M., 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.

Daniels, LD, Z Gedalof, MFJ Pisaric, KA Moser, V Stretch, CJ Courtney Mustaphi, R Chavardes, T Dinh, E Davis and H Marcoux. 2013. Climate change, wildfire and landscape homogenization in western Canada: Research update. Report to Foothills Research Institute, Hinton Wood Products and Alberta Newsprint Company. Hinton, AB. July 2013. 18p.

Courtney Mustaphi, C.J. 2013. An Assessment of Holocene Fire Regime Controls in Southeastern British Columbia, Canada. Foothills Research Institute research update. [PDF LINK]

Lori D. Daniels, Ze’ev Gedalof, Michael F.J. Pisaric, Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi, Eric Da Silva, Helene Marcoux, Vesta Mather, John H. Nesbitt, Eugenie Paul-Limoges, Joelle Perreault, Courtney Steele. 2011. Historic climate-fire-vegetation interactions of the west versus east Kootenays: implications of climate change and fire suppression. Report to Tembec Industries, R.W. Consulting Inc., B.A. Blackwell and Associates, BC Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, and BC Parks. July 2011. 33p.

Lori D Daniels, Ze’ev Gedalof, Michael F.J. Pisaric, Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi, Eric Da Silva, Helene Marcoux, Vesta Mather, John H Nesbitt, Eugenie Paul-Limoges, Joelle Perreault, Courtney Steele. 2011. Historic climate-fire-vegetation interactions of the West versus East Kootenays: Implications of climate change and fire suppression. NSERC Strategic Report 2011. 57p.



Courtney Mustaphi, CJ. 2013. A Landscape-Scale Assessment of Holocene Fire Regime Controls in South-Eastern British Columbia, Canada. Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Canada. Supervisor: Michael Pisaric, Co-Supervisor: R. Timothy Patterson. [Supplemental Files - raw data]

Courtney Mustaphi, CJ. 2009. Analysis of Laminated Sediments from Lake DV09, Northern Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada. Department of Geography, University of Ottawa, Canada. Supervisor: Konrad Gajewski.


CARD2.0 - radiocarbon dates (East Africa; lake DV09, Devon Island; Pyatts Lake, Sasquatch Lake, NEL01, NEL03, British Columbia).

Courtney Mustaphi, Colin; Gajewski, Konrad; Marchant, Rob; Rosqvist, Gunhild, 2017, "Radiocarbon dates, sedimentology, and pollen counts from the late Holocene sediments of Oblong Tarn, Mount Kenya", doi:10.7910/DVN/BBDYUZ, Harvard Dataverse, V1.

Davis, Emma; Courtney Mustaphi, Colin J.; Gall, Amber; Pisaric, Michael F. J.; Vermaire, Jesse C.; Moser, Katrina A., 2016. Radiocarbon dating, macroscopic charcoal counts, pollen counts, and tree-establishment data from Little Trefoil Lake, Alberta, Canadadoi:10.7910/DVN/6O5BOI, Harvard Dataverse, V1.

Courtney Mustaphi, CJ. 2016. Radiocarbon dates from eastern Africa in the CARD2.0 format. Harvard Dataverse, V5.

Courtney Mustaphi, CJ. 2015. Paleoecological and sedimentological data from: "A classification for macroscopic charcoal morphologies found in Holocene lacustrine sediments". Harvard Dataverse, V1.

Data from lake NEL01, British Columbia, Canada (Courtney Mustaphi et al, 2015 JoPL).

Data from lake NEL03, British Columbia, Canada (Courtney Mustaphi and Pisaric, 2014 QR).

Courtney Mustaphi, CJ. 2013. Replication data for: Holocene sediments from a coastal lake on northern Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada. hdl:10864/10466, Scholars Portal Dataverse - University of Ottawa Dataverse, V2.

Data from Lake DV09, Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada (Courtney Mustaphi and Gajewski, 2013 CJES). [KML file]

Contributions to research networks:

PAGES Global Paleofire Working Group

PAGES Ocean2K Working Group

Tierney, J. E., Abram, N. J., Anchukaitis, K. J., Evans, M. N., Giry, C., Kilbourne, K. H., ... & Zinke, J. (2015). Tropical sea surface temperatures for the past four centuries reconstructed from coral archives. Paleoceanography, 30(3), 226-252.

In the media:

Kazakh TV. 27 January 2015. Kazakh-UK Sustainable Cities Workshop.

MacDonald, Sally. 2012. Scientists sample lakes to tell forests’ history. Daily Times [Trail, British Columbia, Canada] 15 August 2012: A16.

MacDonald, Sally. 2012. Scientists sample lakes to tell forests’ history. Daily Townsman [Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada] 14 August 2012: 3.

Newman, J., Anand, M., Henry, H., Hunt, S., Gedalof, Z. 2011. Climate Change Biology. CAB International – Gutenberg Press, Malta. 289pp. [Featured in a photo on page 7].


Grains of Truth - AAREA project at Engaruka terraces, northern Tanzania.

JoPL 2015 video abstract - Courtney Mustaphi CJ and Asena Q.

Fieldwork in East Africa - Asena Q and REAL project.

Introducing the University of York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems - Asena Q and REAL project.

Quadcopter flight over Ormakau wetland, near Amboseli National Park, Kenya

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Contact details

Dr Colin Courtney Mustaphi
Research Fellow
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York
YO10 5NG

Tel: +44 (0)1904 324226