Rob Marchant
Professor

Profile

Biography

My research and teaching interests focus on the theme of vegetation dynamics and ecosystem change. In particular, I use 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. My interest in tropical environments was sparked by a Royal Geographical Society-sponsored expedition to study seagrass and coral ecosystems off Zanzibar. I conducted my 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 I moved to the University of Amsterdam to pursue my interests in the spatio-temporal character of vegetation change, now focusing in Latin America through the Biome 6000 project. In 2003 I took a Marie-Curie research fellowship in the School of Botany, Trinity College, Dublin where I have been developing and using a pollen database for Ireland. My main research area remains in tropical environments and I am currently working on projects in Colombia, Amazonia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The research I have 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).

 

Career

Professor University of York
Reader University of York
PhD Hull
BSc Hull

Research

Overview

My main interest is researching processes of environmental change and how these are registered by tropical vegetation, how this may respond in a future of uncertain change and how we can use such information to guide appropriate policy development. My research covers the fields of biogeography, ecology, palaeoecology and ecosystem modelling. Combining these disciplines I develop an understanding, at an ecologically sensible timeframe, of the events that have shaped the past, present and future composition and distribution of tropical ecosystems.

There are three main geographical areas where I have active research programmes – East Africa, Latin America and Ireland. Although these three areas are quite different, there are interesting linkages between them; particularly through the Atlantic Ocean and associated climate interactions and feedbacks to the terrestrial ecosystems. Indeed, as many of the climatic dynamics that have impacted on tropical ecosystems have a global signal understanding the phase relationships of how ecosystems respond to these large scale processes is vital for a considered insight into understanding the spatial pattern and associated impacts of future climate change.

I co-ordinate 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 with in 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.

Research group(s)

York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems (KITE)

Publications

Full publications list

Papers in peer-reviewed journals

  • Marchant, R.A., Berrío, J.C., Behling, H., Boom, A. Hooghiemstra, H. 2006. Colombian dry moist forest transitions in the Llanos Orientales – a comparison of model and pollen-based biome reconstructions. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 234, 28-44.
  • Marchant, R.A., Mumbi, C., Behera, S., Yamagata, T. (2007). The Indian Ocean Dipole – the unsung driver of climatic variability in East Africa. African Journal of Ecology 45, 4-16
  • Mumbi, C., Marchant, R., Hooghiemstra H, Wooller, M. in press. Late Quaternary ecosystem stability from an East African Biodiversity hot spot: the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania. Quaternary Research.
  • Vélez M.I., Berrío J.C., Hooghiemstra H., Metcalfe S. and Marchant, R. (2005) Palaeoenvironmental changes during the last ca. 8590 calibrated yr (7800 14C yr) BP in the dry forest ecosystem of the Patía valley, Southern Colombian Andes: a multiproxy approach. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 216, 279-302.
  • Marchant, R.A., Taylor, D.M. and Hamilton, A.C. (1997). Late Pleistocene and Holocene History at Mubwindi Swamp, south-west Uganda. Quaternary Research 47, 316-328.
  • Marchant, R.A. and Taylor, D.M. (1998). A Late Holocene record of montane forest dynamics from south-western Uganda. The Holocene 8, 375-381.
  • Marchant, R.A. and Taylor, D.M. (2000). Numerical analysis of modern pollen spectra and in situ montane forest - implications for the interpretation of fossil pollen sequences from tropical Africa. The New Phytologist 146, 505-515.
  • Marchant, R.A. and Hooghiemstra, H. (2001). 'Letter to the Editor' Climate of East Africa 6000 14C Yr B.P. as inferred from pollen data. By Odile Peyron, Dominique Jolly, Raymonde Bonnefille, Annie Vincens and Joël Guiot. Quaternary Research 56, 133-135.
  • Marchant, R.A. and Hooghiemstra, H. (2001). Plantan en klimaatverandering. Natuur & Techniek 69, 22-27.
  • Marchant, R.A., Behling, H., Berrio, J.C., Cleef, A., Duivenvoorden, J., van Geel, B, van der Hammen, T., Hooghiemstra, H., Kuhry, P., Melief, B.M., van Reenen, G. and Wille, M. (2001). Late Holocene Colombian vegetation dynamics. Quaternary Science Reviews 20, 1289-1308.
  • Marchant, R.A., Behling, H., Berrio, J.C., Cleef, A., Duivenvoorden, J., van Geel, B, van der Hammen, T., Hooghiemstra, H., Kuhry, P., Melief, B.M., van Reenen, G. and Wille, M. (2001). A reconstruction of Colombian biomes derived from modern pollen data along an altitude gradient. Review Palaeobotany and Palynology 117, 79-92.
  • Marchant, R.A., Almeida, L., Behling, H., Berrio, J.C., Bush, M., Cleef, A., Duivenvoorden, J., Kappelle, M., De Oliveira, P.E., Trixeira de Oliveira-Filho, A., Lozano-García, M.S., Hooghiemstra, H., Ledru, M-P., Ludlow-Wiechers, B., Markgraf, V., Mancini, V., Paez, M., Prieto, A., Rangel, O., and Salgado-Labouriau, M.L. (2002). Distribution and ecology of parent taxa of pollen lodged within the Latin American Pollen Database. Review Palaeobotany and Palynology. 120, 1-75. [RAM Rev Paleobot 2002]
  • Marchant, R.A., Boom, A. and Hooghiemstra, H. (2002). Pollen-based biome reconstructions for the past 450,000 yr from the Funza-2 core, Colombia: comparisons with model-based vegetation reconstructions. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 177, 29-45.
  • Marchant, R.A., Behling, H., Berrio, J.C., Cleef, A., Duivenvoorden, J., van Geel, B, van der Hammen, T., Hooghiemstra, H., Kuhry, P., Melief, B.M., van Reenen, G. and Wille, M. (2002). Colombian vegetation derived from pollen data at 0, 3000, 6000, 9000, 12,000, 15,000 and 18,000 radiocarbon year before present. Journal of Quaternary Science 17, 113-129.
  • Marchant, R.A., Boom, A. Behling, H., Berrío, J.C., van Geel, B, van der Hammen, T., Hooghiemstra, H., Kuhry and Wille, M. 2004a. Colombian vegetation at the Late Glacial Maximum – a comparison of model and pollen-based biome reconstructions. Journal of Quaternary Science 19, 721-732
  • Marchant, R.A., Behling, H., Berrío, J.C., Cleef, A., Duivenvoorden, J., van Geel, B, van der Hammen, T., Hooghiemstra, H., Kuhry, P., Melief, B.M., van Reenen, G. and Wille, M. 2004b. Mid to Late Holocene vegetation disturbance in Colombia - a regional reconstruction. Antiquity 78, 828-838
  • Marchant, R.A. and Hooghiemstra, H. 2004. Rapid environmental change in tropical Africa and Latin America about 4000 years before present: a review. Earth Science Reviews 66, 217-260.
  • Marchant, R.A., Berrío, J.C., Behling, H., Boom, A. Hooghiemstra, H., in press. Colombian dry moist forest transitions in the Llanos Orientales – a comparison of model and pollen-based biome reconstructions. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
  • Marchant, R.A., Behling, H., (2005). Late Quaternary tropical Ecosystem Dynamics. Quaternary Research 64, 283.
  • Berrío, J.C, Hooghiemstra, H., Marchant, R. and Rangel, O. (2002). Lateglacial and Holocene history of the dry forest area in the south Colombian Cauca Valley. Journal of Quaternary Science 17, 667-682.
  • Boom, A., Marchant, R. A., Hooghiemstra, H. & Sinninghe Damste, J. S. (2002) CO2 and temperature-controlled altitudinal shifts of C4- and C3- dominated grasslands allow reconstruction of ϱCO2. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 177, 151-168
  • Elenga, H., Peryon, O., Bonnefille, R., Prentice, I.C., Jolly, D., Cheddadi, R., Guiot, J., Andrieu, V., Bottema, S., Buchet, G., De Beaulieu, J.L., Hamilton, A.C., Maley, J., Marchant, R., Perez-Obiol, R., Reille, M., Riollet, G., Scott, L., Straka, H., Taylor, D., Van Campo, E., Vincens, A., Laarif, F. and Jonson, H. (1998). Pollen-based reconstruction for Southern Europe and Africa 18,000 years ago. Journal of Biogeography 27, 621-634.
  • Jolly, D., Taylor, D.M., Marchant, R.A., Hamilton, A.C., Bonnefille, R., Buchet, G. and Riolett, G. (1997). Vegetation dynamics in central Africa since 18,000 yr BP: pollen records from the interlacustrine highlands of Burundi, Rwanda and western Uganda. Journal of Biogeography 24, 495-512.
  • Prentice, I.C., Jolly, D. and BIOME 6000 participants (2000). Mid-Holocene and glacial-maximum vegetation: geography of the northern continents and Africa. Journal of Biogeography 27, 507-519.
  • Taylor, D.M. and Marchant, R.A. (1996). Human impact in the interlacustrine region: long-term pollen records from the Rukiga Highlands. Azania 29-30, 283-295.
  • Taylor, D.M., Marchant, R. and Robertshaw, P. (1999). A sediment-based history of medium altitude forest in central Africa: a record from Kabata Swamp, Ndale volcanic field, Uganda. Journal of Ecology 87, 303-315.
  • Taylor, D.M., Robertshaw, P. and Marchant, R.A. (2000). Environmental change and political upheaval in precolonial western Uganda. The Holocene 10, 527-536.

Chapters in edited books

  • Marchant, R.A., Taylor, D.M. (2000). Modern pollen - vegetation relationships in montane rainforest of Uganda: an aid to interpretation of fossil sequences from central Africa. In Pollen and Spores: Morphology and Bilology M. Harley, C. Morton and S. Blackmore (Eds.). Kew Press, London pp 312-334.
  • Marchant, R.A. and de Vries, B. (2002). The Holocene: Global change and local response. In Mappae Mundi, human and their habitats in a long-term socio-ecological perspective, myths, maps and models. Bert de Vries and Johan Goudsblom (Eds.), Amsterdam University Press / Cambridge University Press pp 47-70.
  • Marchant, R., Hooghiemstra, H. and Islebe, G. (2004). The rise and fall of Peruvian and Central American civilisations: interconnections with Holocene climatic change - a necessarily complex model. In Monsoons and Civilization Yoshinori Yasuda and Vasant Shinde (Eds.) Roli Books.
  • Marchant, R. A. (in press). Late Holocene environmental change and cultural response in south-western Uganda. In Wetlands of the World S. Ellis and M. Lille (Eds.). Routledge.
  • de Vries, B. and Marchant, R.A. (2002). Environment and the great transitions:agrarianization. In Mappae Mundi, human and their habitats in a long-term socio-ecological perspective, myths, maps and models. Bert de Vries and Johan Goudsblom (Eds.), Amsterdam University Press / Cambridge University Press.
  • de Vries, B., Marchant, R.A. and De Greef, P. (2002). In Mappae Mundi, human and their habitats in a long-term socio-ecological perspective, myths, maps and models. Bert de Vries and Johan Goudsblom (Eds.), Amsterdam University Press / Cambridge University Press pp 111-146.
  • Lovett, J.C., Marchant, R., Taplin, J., Küper, W. (2005). The oldest rainforests in Africa: stability or resilience for survival and diversity? In Phylogeny and Conservation. Andy Purvis, J Gittleman and Thomas Brooks Eds. Conservation Biology 8
  • Taylor, D.M., Marchant, R.A. and Lamb, H. (1998). Long-term dynamics of forests in western Uganda: implications for monitoring and management. In The Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Uganda H. Osmaston (Ed.). Makerere university Press, Kampala pp 135-153.
  • Taylor, D.M., Marchant, R.A. and Hamilton, A.C. (2001). A re-analysis and interpretation of palynological data from Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site. In Kalambo Falls Prehistoric Site II: The Later Prehistoric Cultures J.D. Clark (Ed.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Robertshaw P., Taylor D., Doyle S., and Marchant R. 2003. Famine, climate and crisis in Western Uganda. In: Battarbee R.W., Gasse F., and Stickley C.E. (eds), Past Climate Variability through Europe and Africa. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 000-000.

Selected conference presentations

  • Marchant, R.A. (1999). Pollen-based biome reconstructions for Latin America at 0, 6000 and 18,000 radiocarbon years. Paleoclimatic and Modelling Intercomparisons ESF Science meeting Albuferia, Portugal.
  • Marchant, R.A. and Taylor, D.M. (1999). Numerical analysis of modern pollen spectra and in situ montane forest - implications for the interpretation of fossil pollen sequences from tropical Africa. INQUA XV International Congress, Durban.
  • Marchant, R.A., Behling, H., Hooghiemstra, H., Markgraf, V., Harrison, S.P., Prentice, C. (2000). Pollen-based biome reconstructions for Colombia at 0, 6000 and 18,000 radiocarbon years ago. International Palynological Congress, Nanjing, China.
  • Marchant R.A and Ledru, M-P. (2000). The migration of Podocarpus and Fitzroya from the Andes during the Late Quaternary. Southern connections meeting of OSTOM, São Paulo, Brazil.
  • Marchant R.A and Jolly, D. (2001). A comparison of Late Quaternary montane vegetation dynamic between central Africa and the northern Andes. Inter-tropical comparisons meeting, Havana, Cuba.
  • Marchant, R.A. and Hooghiemstra, H. (2002) Rapid environmental change in tropical Africa and Latin America about 4000 years before present: a review. Environmental Catastrophes in The Holocene, London.
  • Marchant R., Mitchell., F. (2003). The Irish Pollen Database – an introduction. Irish Quaternary Association Spring meeting, Trinity College Dublin.
  • Marchant, R.A., Behling, H., Berrio, J.C., Cleef, A., Duivenvoorden, J., van Geel, B, van der Hammen, T., Harrison, S., Hooghiemstra, H., Kuhry, P., Melief, B.M., Prentice, C. van Reenen, G., Wille, M. (2003). Comparisons of data and model-derived palaeovegetation from Latin America at 0, 6000 and 18,000 yr BP. INQUA 14th International Congress, Reno Nevada.
Marchant, Rob

Contact details

Prof. Rob Marchant
Professor
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York
Heslington
York
YO10 5NG

Tel: 01904 324061
Fax: 01904 322998