Vegetation response to past climate change in New Zealand

Wednesday 11th of February 2015, 05:20 PM (6 years ago)

Contact: David Lyttle | djl1yttle@gmail.com | (03) 454 54750

Tammo Reichgelt, Geology Department. With increasing concern for the stability of the climate system, ice-caps melting, change in ocean circulation, and heightened atmospheric carbon levels, one can't help but wonder: how will this affect my backyard? Past climate reconstructions often focus on ocean-based proxies, because climate systems have a strong interchange with the ocean, and the ocean provides clearly defined, well-datable archives. Terrestrial climate is often subject to small-scale variation and terrestrial geology can be a challenge to understand, not to mention find age calibrations for. Nevertheless, the terrestrial realm is our backyard, and therefore terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions are important in providing context and constraints of the environment under differing climate regimes. Paleobotany provides an important tool in unravelling terrestrial paleoclimate. Through diversity, diversification and extinction rates, and the relation between morphology/habit and the environment in vegetation communities, plants are ideal terrestrial paleoclimate indicators. Paleoclimatic reconstructions have been made for Miocene vegetation assemblages of Otago, indicating an environment that strongly contrasts to the present. Large-scale variation appears to be in concordance with reconstructions from marine proxies, but there is evidence of small-scale variation such as is caused by topography and seasonality. At the Zoology Benham Building, 346 Great King Street, behind the Zoology car park by the Captain Cook Hotel. Use the main entrance of the Benham Building to get in and go to the Benham Seminar Room, Rm. 215, 2nd floor. Please be prompt as we have to hold the door open.