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P3 - Ecology, Paleoecology and Evolutionary Ecology

PI: Georg Miehe,  Lars Opgenoorth | Sebsebe Demissew, Zerihun Woldu
Post-Doc: Graciela Gil-Romera
PhD-Student: Mekbib Gelaw

Watch this video to get a brief insight into subproject P3

Overview

The environmental baseline assessment is central for the calibration of proxies which in turn is central for the reliability of proxies in paleoenvironmental research. For this reason, an assessment of vegetation patterns is performed as a tool to understand climatic gradients, biotic and cultural disturbance ecology and to determine indicator values of pollen and spores. Furthermore, an assessment of distribution patterns and dynamics of the main ecosystem constituents, the Erica woodlands, the Giant Molerat’s landscape engineering and the present-day land-use patterns of herding and fire-management of rangelands are another pre-requisite for the understanding of paleo-proxies. This assessment comprises vegetation records and remote sensing.

Achievements

  1. Retrieval of 7 cores covering Late Glacial and Holocene sediments with a 15 m sediment core recording the last 16ka BP of environmental change in lake Garba Guracha (3950m asl).
  2. Reconstruction of the local high-altitude moisture patterns using the fossil diatom assemblage.
  3. Most comprehensive pollen analyses of upland Africa in order to reconstruct vegetation dynamics at decadal time scales.
  4. Assessment of Africa’s  longest high-altitude deep-time record of the fire-resilience of the Ericaceous Belt since 15 ka BP, and establishment of a numerical relationship between Erica and the burning patterns
  5. First record of coprophilous fungi spores & archaeophyte settlement plants (introduced from the Near and Middle East) as Africa’s oldest records of high-altitude pastoralism
  6. Assessment of the fire-resilience of Ericaceous Belt’s flowering plant species set
  7. Assessment  of resprouting of Erica after fire showing the ecological stability of a fire-managed pastoral ecosystem in the Ericaceous Belt
  8. Establishment of 10 automatic climate stations  between 1315 and  4385 m asl across the Bale Mountains

Objectives

  1. Extension of the fire and pollen record to at least 30 ka BP and inclusion of sites from the arid southern Sanetti Plateau in order
      ⦁ to include times of lower human presence,
      ⦁ to trace suitable environmental conditions for hunter-gatherers during pre-LGM and LGM times
      ⦁ to better understand the contrasting climatic conditions within the Bale Mountain climatic divide.
  2. Tracing of the response time of the Ericaceous Belt in the Bale Mountains. We need however to establish a more comprehensive network of LGM to modern records so we can assess elevational migration patterns for the vegetation belts with potentially different disturbance level.
  3. Tracing of the response time of the Ericaceous Belt in the Bale Mountains. We need however to establish a more comprehensive network of LGM to modern records so we can assess elevational migration patterns for the vegetation belts with potentially different disturbance level
  4. Mapping the distribution of Erica on the plateau in high resolution including the presence and absence of seedlings and ‘Kindergardens’.
  5. Investigation of the distribution, ecology and population dynamics of afroalpine endemic plant species bound to Giant Molerat mounds.
  6. Quantification of the disturbance in the landscape building on top of the results of Phase 1. Once we are able to recognize human or naturally-produced disturbance, we will establish numerical boundaries to it in terms of land cover change. This would imply setting up a number of modelling approaches (system and spatial explicit models) with a great relevance in the African context.
Photo: FOR 2358

   

Figure 1 (left) & 2 (right): Burned and resprouting Erica vegetation;  burning landscape at Sanetti Plateau, Ethiopia

Photo: FOR 2358
FOR 2358

Figure 3 (left) & 4 (right):  Extracting sediment cores at Lake Garaba Guracha, Ethiopia

Publications

Gil-Romera, G., Fekadu, M., Grady, D.A., Bittner, L., Zech, M., Opgenoorth, L., Miehe, G., Lamb, H.F., (2021). The new Garba Guracha palynological sequence: Revision and data expansion, in: Gosling, W.D., Lezine, A.M., Scott, L. (Eds.), Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics: The African Pollen Data Base, Palaeoecology of Africa, An International Yearbook of Landscape Evolution and Palaeoenvironments. South Africa.
https://www.routledge.com/Quaternary-Vegetation-Dynamics-The-African-Pollen-Data-Base/Gosling-Lezine-Scott/p/book/9780367755089#sup

Groos, A. R., Akçar, N., Yesilyurt, S., Miehe, G., Vockenhuber, C., and Veit, H. (2021): Nonuniform Late Pleistocene glacier fluctuations in tropical Eastern Africa, Sci. Adv., 7, eabb6826.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb6826

Gil-Romera G, Adolf C, Benito B, Johansson M, Bittner L, Fekadu M, Glaser B, Mekonnen B, Grady D, Lamb H, Lemma B, Rensen D, Zech M, Zech W, Miehe G (2019) Long-term fire resilience of the Ericaceous Belt, Bale Mountains, Ethiopia. Biology Letters 15.
https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0357

Ossendorf G, Groos AR, Bromm T, Tekelemariam MG, Glaser B, Lesur J, Schmidt J, Akçar N, Bekele T, Beldados A, Demissew S, Kahsay TH, Nash BP, Nauss T, Negash A, Nemomissa S, Veit H, Vogelsang R, Woldu Z, Zech W, Opgenoorth L & Miehe G (2019) Middle Stone Age foragers resided in high elevations of the glaciated Bale Mountains, Ethiopia, Science 365 (2019), 583-587.
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw8942

Gil-Romera, G.; Gelaw, M.F.; Renken, D.; Bittner, L.; Grady, D.; Lamb, H.; Lemma, B.; Zech, M. & Miehe, G. (2018). Long-term fire regimes define Afroalpine and Afromontane vegetation in tropical mountains: the case of the Bale Mountains, Ethiopia. Presented at IPA-IAL Joint Meeting, Stockholm, Sweden.

Gil-Romera G (2018) Long-term environmental drivers of the afromontane and afroalpine vegetation in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia . Presented at IPS, international.

Hailu, B.T.; Gelaw, M.F. & Nauss, T. (2018): Availability of global and national scale land cover products and their accuracy in mountainous areas of Ethiopia: a review. Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 12(4), 041502.
DOI: 10.1117/1.JRS.12.041502

Kurth, P. (2018): M.Sc.Thesis- Distribution patterns and the impact of the Giant Mole Rat (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus)on vegetation composition and plant biomass at the Sanetti Plateau in the Bale Mountains in South-East Ethiopia. Philipps Universität Marburg.

Lamb, H.; Bates, C.R.; Bryant, C.L.; Davies, S.; Huws, D.G.; Marshall, M.H.; Roberts, H.M. & Toland, H. (2018): 150,000-year palaeoclimate record from northern Ethiopia supports early, multiple dispersals of modern humans from Africa. Scientific Reports 8(1077), 1-7.
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-19601-w

Lamb H, Bittner L, Davies S, Gelaw MF, Gil-Romera G, Grady D, Lemma B, Miehe G & Zech M (2018). Garba Guracha revisited: testing the Mountain Exile Hypothesis. Presented at AFQUA, Nairobi,Kenya.

Lamb H, Bittner L, Davies S, Gelaw MF, Gil-Romera G, Grady D, Lemma B, Miehe G & Zech M (2018) Garba Guracha revisited: testing the Mountain Exile Hypothesis. Presented at IPA-IAL Joint Meeting, Stockholm, Sweden.

Reber, D.; Gelaw, M.F.; Detsch, F.; Vogelsang, R.; Bekele, T.; Nauss, T. & Miehe, G. (2018): High-Altitude Rock Shelters and Settlements in an African Alpine Ecosystem: The Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Human Ecology 46(4), 587–600.
DOI: 10.1007/s10745-018-9999-5

Renken, D. (2018): M.Sc.Thesis-The regenerative capacity of vegetation in the fire-shaped Ericaceous belt of the Bale Mountains. Philipps Universität Marburg.

Roberts HM, Bryant CL, Huws DG & Lamb H (2018) Generating long chronologies for lacustrine sediments usingluminescence dating: a 250,000 year record from Lake Tana, Ethiopia. Quaternary Science Reviews 202, 66-77.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.10.037

Viehberg FA, Just J, Dean JR, Wagner B, Franz SO, Klasen N, Kleinen T, Ludwig P, Asrat A, Lamb H, Leng MJ, Rethemeyer J, Milodoswki AE, Claussen M & Schäbitz F (2018) Environmental change during MIS4 and MIS 3 opened corridors in the Horn of Africa for Homo sapiens expansion. Quaternary Science Reviews 202, 139-153.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.09.008

Miehe, S. & Miehe, G. (1994): Ericaceous Forests and Heathlands in the Bale Mountains of Southern Ethiopia - Ecology and Man's Impact.: 1 1 (Traute Warnke Verlag, Reinbek, Hamburg, Germany).

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