SBE Professor Jacquelyn Gill Leads Research in South America

Jacquelyn GillJacquelyn Gill, assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology, will be leading a research project in the Falkland Islands, a remote group of islands east of South America,  from Dec. 4-22.  Gill will be joined by two SBE graduate students- Kit Hamley and Dulcinea Groff.  The researchers will study the island’s environmental history throughout the last 20,000 years in order to establish a baseline for further research.  The team hopes to facilitate conservation efforts based on their data, and to understand the effects climate change has on the area’s biodiversity.

The research team hopes to learn more about the first human inhabitants of the island, and what the ecosystem looked like before humans arrived.  They aim to help residents of the island develop sustainable practices in sheep grazing, eco-tourism and fishing that would benefit the economy, as well as the wildlife.

Groff’s research will focus on the sensitivity of native grasses that provide habitat for penguins and other seabirds.  When in the Falkland Islands, Groff will collect sediment cores from several locations, as well as environmental samples in order to look at environmental changes.

“The overall theme of my project is what I call a marine-terrestrial linkage,” Groff says. “This is the connection of nutrients originating in the marine ecosystem that are transferred to the terrestrial ecosystem. The soil in the region is very nutrient poor, which makes nutrients coming from the marine ecosystem very important.”

Hamley’s research will focus on the Falkland Island wolf, looking into whether indigenous people brought the wolf to the Falklands before Europeans arrived. She will visit sites where wolf bones have been found to look for human artifacts.

To help fund the $20,000 trip, Hamley and Groff have created and launched a crowd-funding campaign through The students hope to raise $10,000 in 35 days.

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