Quaternary Palaeoecology

In Quaternary Environmental Change at Liverpool palaeoecological research has encompassed a wide range of marine, terrestrial and freshwater organisms. Paralleling extensive resource for the field sampling of sediments, expertise is available in pollen, dinoflagellate cyst, foraminifera, diatom, plant macrofossil, amoebic protozoa (testate amoebae), including other NPPs and the analysis of charcoal records from sediments. Facilities include bespoke preparation laboratories for pollen and dinoflagellate cysts and plant macrofossils and charcoal. Research foci include technique applications to reconstruct environmental histories (e.g. ) and technique development including the ‘Atlas of modern dinoflagellate cyst distribution’ used to underpin quantitative environmental reconstruction (e.g. salinity, sea surface temperature, sea ice cover).

Pollen and dinoflagellate cyst analyses are supported by bespoke preparation laboratories with HF compliant fume-hoods. Liverpool is houses extensive collection of type pollen slides for north European and Africa plants. The Macrofossil Preparation Facility is purpose built with low angle sinks, sieves and various pressure hoses for sample preparation for plant macrofossils, testate amoebae and foraminifera. The laboratories are home to an extensive type collection for plant remains and are equipped with various low power zoom biological microscopes and photo-microscopy. An extensive collection of (>120) low and high power microscopes and photo-microscopy is also available through the Environmental Sciences Laboratory of the Central Teaching Hub.

Home to the recent (2009-2013) European BIODIVERSA project FIREMAN that examined ‘Fire management to maintain biodiversity and mitigate economic losses, there is expertise in the preparation, quantification and analysis of charred particles or charcoal in sediment sequences. This has included the development of photo-microscopy and image analysis techniques to better understand fire history in moorlands and managed peat-lands. There is also expertise in reconstructing water level histories for peat-lands using testate amoebae, plant macrofossil and peat stratigraphical (humification and thermal decomposition) techniques. Integrating site specific fire (charcoal) and vegetation (pollen) histories is coupled with more regional scale analyses including both leadership and contributions to the European Charcoal and European Pollen Databases.

Microfauna sampling across the salt-marsh slope

Investigations of coastal sediments at Liverpool are underpinned by expertise in diatom, foraminifera and dinoflagellate cyst fossil records. Using strong links with National Oceanography Centre (Liverpool) coupling long documented records of sea level with palaeodata (foraminfera and diatoms) using saltmarsh and lagoonal sediments has allowed extension of these records for the British and Adriatic coasts. Diatom and foraminifera analyses are supported by our extensive collection of low and high power (photo) microscopes, equipped with Lumenera Infinity Analyze software. Scanning Electron Microscopy is supported using a Hitachi TM-1000 Tabletop Microscope fitted with a Bruker Quantax 70 EDS Microanalysis System (Boron (B) to Americium (Am)).