Ecosystem dynamics of Amazonian open peatlands during the late Holocene

Funding Body: University of Manchester

Project Duration: 28/09/2018-20/09/2021

Project Overview:

This PhD project focuses on the palaeoecology of open peatlands in the Pastaza-Marañón Foreland Basin (PMFB), northeast Peru. Amazonian peatlands can be subdivided into three classifications: open herbaceous, palm swamp and pole forest. While the last two types have been investigated more thoroughly, open peatlands have remained largely understudied because of their lower biodiversity. However, studying their formation and ecological role can be crucial to improve our understanding of the wider Amazonian peatland complex. The history and diversity of the Amazon basin still remains subject of debate, as well as the impact of climate change and modification of the landscape by early civilisations through agriculture and forest management. This project aims to make a contribution to our biogeographical understanding about the ecological importance, functioning and sensitivity of Amazonian open peatlands. The results of this project, including specifically dated pollen records, vegetation censuses and data on peatland development and chemistry, will increase our understanding about vegetation changes in open peatlands over time as well as improve our ability to predict their future.

Project Aims:

  1. Improve our understanding about the floristic character and formation of open peatlands in the PMFB.
  2. Identify and evaluate potential drivers of vegetation change in open peatlands.
  3. Determine the spatial and temporal relationship between the vegetation succession pathways of open peatlands and other peatland types.
  4. Contribute to monitoring and prediction of climate change impacts on Amazonian peatlands and help enhance their conservation.

Team Members:

Name Role Affiliation/Institute
Dael Sassoon PhD student, Principle Investigator University of Manchester
William Fletcher Main supervisor University of Manchester
Peter Ryan Co-supervisor University of Manchester
Katy Roucoux External supervisor University of St. Andrews
Ian Lawson External supervisor University of St. Andrews

Project Partners: University of Manchester, University of St. Andrews, IIAP

Contact Information: Dael Sassoon (