Researchers turn back climate clock

08 November 2010

Dr Lindley GillsonDr Lindley Gillson

UCT researchers Professor Timm Hoffman and Dr Lindsey Gillson, from the Plant Conservation Unit, are engaged in an innovative study to determine the impact of climate change on key South African biomes.

The two, together with a group of doctoral and master's researchers, are pooling historical climate and land-use data, insights gleaned from repeat photography (shots taken since the late 1800s), palaeoecological findings (starting with pollen fossils dating back to the medieval warm period of around 850 AD), and long-term ecological monitoring to look at changes in the vegetation over the past millennium, specifically along a strip of land from Namaqualand in the west to the former Transkei region in the east.

This will help the researchers get a measure of the resilience of the different biomes - from fynbos to grasslands - to natural and humantriggered changes in climate. The findings will shape policy on the management and design of protected areas, in partnership with Professor Melodie McGeochand and colleagues from South African National Parks.

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