Professor Robert Marchant
Professor, Department of Environment and Geography
Robert’s research and teaching interests focus on the theme of vegetation dynamics and ecosystem change. In particular, he uses palaeoecology, vegetation modelling, archaeological, biogeographical and ecological data to determine the role of past events in shaping the present-day composition and distribution of tropical vegetation. Robert’s interest in tropical environments was sparked by a Royal Geographical Society-sponsored expedition to study seagrass and coral ecosystems off Zanzibar. He conducted his PhD research at the University of Hull producing a 50,000-year record of forest history from Bwindi-Impenetrable Forest, Uganda to understand forcing mechanisms (climatic, human and ecological) responsible for sedimentary and vegetation change. From this he moved to the University of Amsterdam to pursue his interests in the spatio-temporal character of vegetation change, now focusing in Latin America through the Biome 6000 project.
In 2003 Robert took a Marie-Curie research fellowship in the School of Botany, Trinity College, Dublin where he has been developing and using a pollen database for Ireland. Robert’s main research area remains in tropical environments and is currently working on projects in Colombia, Amazonia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The research he has done has been funded by research councils (e.g. UK’s National Environmental Research Council, The Netherlands Foundation); international agencies (e.g. WWF, the EU); and national governments (e.g. United Kingdom and The Netherlands).
Robert co-ordinates the York Institute for Tropical Ecosystem (KITE), a Marie-Curie funded Excellence Centre, that explores the relationship between ecosystem dynamics, climate change, and human impacts in Africa. The key elements of the proposal are to:
- Determine ecosystem response to climate change by focusing on an area of particularly high biodiversity
- Determine the role of human impacts on present forest composition and long-term ecosystem functioning
- Determine pollen-vegetation relationships and develop methods to link site-scale fossil data to landscape
- Develop and test models to link past, present and future ecosystem functioning at different spatial scales
- Produce results to inform management and policy formation both in the study area and more generically
Other staff within the Department of Environment and Geography directly involved in the project include Dr. Jon Lovett for his expertise in tropical ecology and Dr. Colin McClean for his expertise in GIS applications to uncertainty associated with ecological data and bioclimatic model development.