Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SEASONS Report Summary

Project ID: 329645
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Germany


The project had two different sets of goals: First was practical scientific goal of using Dynamic Vegetation Modeling (DVM) to past time periods and combining this with fossil data. The other was higher level goal establishing a new research frontier at the intersection of geosciences, palaeobiology, and environmental modelling. Both of these goals were successful in the scope of the project.

The project concentrated on investigating and understanding the development of seasonality in terrestrial ecosystems of Northern Hemisphere during the last 23 million years. The main tools used in the project were Dynamic Vegetation Models (DVM), and fossil mammal data,
paleobotanical data and stable isotopes. The vegetation modeling concentrated on using the
LPJ-GUESS DVM. The main results from the project are a comprehensive DVM runs for the Late Miocene (11-7 million years ago, Ma), and for the Mid-Miocene (15 Ma) that depict the opening of landscapes from Mid-Miocene to Late Miocene. Additionally, we worked with Prof. Andreas Mulch on isotopes analysis of the seasonality. This work concentrated first to the Western Northern America, where the isotope data was available, and was later enlarged to Western Eurasia and also Africa (Malawi).

Some of the results have already been published (see e.g. publications 1 and 2). The work carried out by Eronen (the Marie Curie Fellow) and other post-docs in the research group was not limited to these two publications. There are two manuscripts in progress that deal with Eurasian isotope analysis in combination with fossil mammal data, and with the Net Primary Productivity (NPP) of the past time periods, and one that deals with isotope data analysis from Malawi.

Together these results suggest that the opening of the landscapes that happened during the Late Miocene (11-7 Ma) requires that the CO2 content of the atmosphere must have been fairly low (similar to pre-industrial value of 280ppm). During the Mid-Miocene (15 Ma) the CO2 content was higher. This suggests that the present-day CO2 content which is over 400ppm is much higher than we have seen in the last 15 Million years. Also, concluding from our model runs, the NPP during the Miocene was higher than today. In other words, the warm worlds of the past were more productive, too. The analysis of productive and carrying capacity in relation to fossil mammal abundances was not finished in the scope of this project, but is being conducted in a follow-up project.

The isotope-fossil mammal research proved that the uplift of Western North American mountain chains affected the environments and mammalian faunas radically. This suggests a new interpretation of the continental environmental history of North America in relation to Europe 55-23 million years ago.

Our higher level objective was to form a new research frontier at the intersection of geosciences, palaeobiology, ecology and environmental modelling. We aimed at integrating data acquisition, synthesis, and modelling to increase our understanding of the processes by which terrestrial ecosystems respond to increased seasonal variations of climate. This objective was concretely realised in a workshop that Eronen organised together with scientist from University of California, Berkeley and other colleagues. The workshop, "Integrating biology and paleobiology to enhance conservation of terrestrial ecosystems on a rapidly changing planet" (13.-17.9.2015) brought together 40 world leading scientist from different disciplines to work on how to bring information from earth sciences to help with practical biodiversity conservation efforts at present-day. A manuscript for high-level review paper is being prepared from this meeting.

In addition, Eronen (the Marie Curie Fellow) did not only work with the research groups of Hickler and Mulch, but started building extensive collaborations within the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), and to different parts of Germany. In addition to learning vegetation modeling and isotope analysis, Eronen learned biodiversity, ecology and evolutionary ecology at BiK-F. This included also learning about socio-ecological systems and how the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) works. Eronen established contacts to German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig, too.

The workshop on integrating biology and paleobiology, contacts with iDIV, and the work conducted at BiK-F by the Fellow will have multiple uses in the future. Not least is the work that the fellow started after the Marie Curie funding period in Finland - he is working in a research group that tries to bring leading scientific information about climate and environmental change to the Future Forecast work conducted at the national level in Finland. The results, research and establishment of a new research frontier that was partly realised in the scope of this project will be used in the Future Forecast work. The research conducted in this project willl be used to building new adaptation practices in conservation biology, and to strengthen cross-discplinary work.

Related information


Thomas Hickler, (Project Area Leader)
Tel.: +49 69 7542 1861
Fax: +49 69 7542 1800
Record Number: 183950 / Last updated on: 2016-06-03
Information source: SESAM