Terrestrial Paleoecology, Paleoclimate, and Carbon Cycling in Wetlands
Wetland sediment is a great achieve of terrestrial ecosystem and climate changes because of low disturbances and continuous sedimentation. Wetlands are also one of the most important carbon storage on earth as most of the sequestrated carbon is stored in the anoxic condition. With respect to the concerns of global temperature and CO2 rise, the paleo-record is another useful tool to help us understand the effects of climatic changes on vegetation, carbon pool, and the landscape. Vegetation composition can in turn help to identify climatic shifts. The condition of estuarine wetlands is also very important to the public as they serve as sanctuaries for economic fish and animals, purify water, are rich in diversity, has high productivity, and has recreational value.
As of now, I mainly study cores from the Hudson River marshes for changes during the last millennium using pollens, macrofossils, and geochemical tracers. I work with Dr. Dorothy Peteet to identify ecological changes based on pollens, spore, and macrofossils, LOI, and C13&N15 stable isotopes signatures. Not only can these paleo-records capture climate changes, anthropogenic effects on ecosystem, such as the deforestation during the European settlement and the spreading of introduced species, can be observed. We also studied atmospheric and riverine transport of pollens in to wetlands in order to determine the relationship of modern vegetation and their respective pollen records. The comparison of the vegetation and sediment type of the pre-anthropogenic interval to present helps the management agency to come up with a better strategy to restore these wetlands. Along with these paleo-records, I am also working with Tim Kenna to analyze surface and cores elemental composition to develop new proxies of environmental changes. Over 35 samples are taken along the Hudson Estuary and its tributoaries. Toward my Ph.D., I am trying to incorporate all of these tools to unveil paleo-environment, paleo-carbon, nutrients dynamic, and toxic-metal contamination in these wetlands.