Can plants that died thousands of years ago rise from the ashes like the legendary phoenix? Possibly, but only if they left behind charcoal which can be used by scientists to reconstruct the plant group, prevailing climate, utility of the plant(s) to other organisms, and local environment occupied by the plant(s). In September 2016, PCU PhD student, Abraham Dabengwa, attended a “Fire baselines by biomes” workshop in France organised by the Global Palaeofire Working Group (GPWG). The aim of the workshop was to review existing gaps in knowledge and data that currently limit our understanding of climate-vegetation-fire interactions in the earth’s history. Read this fun and interesting article written by Abraham.
The Plant Conservation Unit's Wataru Tokura, together with his co-supervisor Tania Anderson, attended the 7th annual Oppenheimer - De Beers Group research conference held in Johannesburg from 18-19th October 2016. The conference was hosted by E Oppenheimer & Son and the De Beers Group, and showcased a wide variety of research and conservation activities undertaken by a number of students, academics, and conservation practitioners across their properties and sites. Read the full article to learn more.
Members of the Plant Conservation Unit (PCU) along with several other arid zone ecologists attended the Arid Zone Ecology Forum's (AZEF) 31st annual conference from 3 - 6 October 2016 at The Showroom Theatre in Prince Albert, Western Cape. The conference commemorated Sue Milton and Richard Dean for their conservation efforts in the Karoo, particularly for the establishment of the Tierberg Long-Term Ecological Research site. Hana Petersen (PCU) won best presentation and Kervin Prayag (UCT Biological Sciences) was runner-up. Charmaine Manyani (Stellenbosch University) won best poster while Juan Swanepoel (UCT Biological Sciences) was runner-up. Samantha Venter (PCU) was also nominated as the AZEF treasurer for 2016/17. Overall it was a fun and successful event!
On 4-6 October 2016, a team of UCT's Biological Scientists took to the formally protected Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area in search of potential palaeoecological sites. The purpose of the trip was to collect sediment cores to be analysed as a part of Cherie's PhD research. Cherié joined the Plant Conservation Unit a few months ago as a PhD Candidate in Palaeoecology and Ecosystem-based Adaptation under the co-supervision of Lindsey Gillson and Timm Hoffman. Read the full article to learn more!