Esther Githumbi
PhD Student and Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher

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Biography

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 researches East African landscapes responses to climate change and human impacts so as to better understand how they may respond to future climate change. This is through swamp sediment analysis for 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, providing a comparison between an upland forest and the savannah grasslands.

Career

2013 - Present

Early Stage Researcher and PhD Student

Department of Environment and Geography,

University of York.

2012 - 2013

Research Intern

Palynology and Palaeobotany section, National Museums of Kenya.

2010 - 2013

M.Sc Zoology: Biology of Conservation

College of Biological and Physical Sciences. University of Nairobi, Kenya.

2006 - 2010

B.Sc Environmental Conservation and Natural Resource Management.

College of Biological and Physical Sciences. University of Nairobi, Kenya.

2009

Research Intern

Soil Sciences and Biometrics departments.

Research

Overview

Description of PhD

The overall project focus is on the temporal, spatial and social dynamics of human-landscape interaction in East Africa over the last millennia, with particular reference to the Ewaso Basin and Eastern Rift Valley in Central Kenya, and the Pangani Basin & Amboseli catchment in North-Eastern Tanzania & South-Eastern Kenya.

Title:  Long-term ecosystem, societal and landscape dynamics in East Africa: A multiproxy analysis of swamp sediments

Supervisor:  Dr. Rob Marchant

Funding:  Marie Curie International Training Network

TAC: Dr. Rob Marchant and Professor Roland Gehrels

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.

Fieldwork

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.

Research group(s)

York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems (KITE)

Resilience in East African Landscapes (REAL)

Githumbi, Esther

Contact details

Esther Githumbi
PhD Student and Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York
Heslington
York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 324780
Fax: 01904 322998

 

Publications

Full publications list

Peer-reviewed publications:

Githumbi, EN, 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]

 

Reports:

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

Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi, Anna C. Shoemaker, Esther N. Githumbi, Rebecca Kariuki, Rebecca M. Muriuki, Stephen Rucina, Rob Marchant. “Historical ecology perspectives of change at Amboseli, Kenya.” Feature Article GLPNEWS, pp 16-19. November 2015.

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.

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.
[PDF]

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.