Staff Profile:Professor Frank Mayle

Professor Frank Mayle
Job Title:
Professor in Tropical Palaeoecology
Areas of Interest:
  • The application of palaeoecological techniques (in particular, fossil pollen, phytoliths and charcoal from lake sediments and/or soils) to investigate the patterns and causes of long-term vegetation dynamics in Amazonia and elsewhere in tropical South America.
  • Millennial, Holocene, and Quaternary glacial-interglacial time frames.
  • Interactions between past climate change, human land use, fire, and Neotropical ecosystems.
  • Inter-disciplinary collaboration, especially with ecologists, archaeologists, palaeo-climatologists, and modellers.

Research questions of current interest:

  • How did southern Amazonian rainforests respond to mid-Holocene drought, and what are the implications for understanding the likely impact of future global warming and increased drought?
  • To what extent was pre-Columbian (pre-AD1492) Amazonia a pristine wilderness versus domesticated landscape, and what are the implications for tropical ecology, biogeochemical cycling and anthropology/archaeology?
  • How can knowledge of past millennial-scale vegetation dynamics and pre-Columbian land use inform current debates and policy concerning natural resource management, poverty alleviation, and conservation in tropical South America?

Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Supervision:

Frank is keen to discuss proposals for research within the broad themes of Neotropical palaeoecology, palaeoclimatology, and past human-environment interactions.

Current PhD Supervision:

  • Richard Smith - Amazonia under Mid-Holocene Drought. ('SCENARIO' NERC DTP award, 2014-2017).
  • Heather Plumpton - Amazonia and the 6K Drought. (UoR Faculty of Science & SAGES award, 2014-2017).
  • Mariah Correia - Reconstruction of Atlantic Rainforest vegetation dynamics since the late Pleistocene in Espirito Santo & Bahia states, Brazil. (CNPq award, Brazil, 2014-2017.

Current Postdocs:

Dr. Macarena Cardenas - Je Landscapes of southern Brazil: Ecology, History and Power in a transitional landscape during the late Holocene. (AHRC award, 2014-2017).

Dr. John Carson - Pre-Columbian Amazonian Palaeoecology. (UoR award, 2014-2017.

Research groups / Centres:

Key facts:

Frank Mayle has a BSc in Botany from the University of Reading (1986), an MSc in Palynology from the University of Sheffield (1988), and a PhD in Palaeoecology from the University of New Brunswick, Canada (1993), where he studied the impact of abrupt late-glacial climate change upon vegetation of Atlantic Canada. He was a NERC-funded PDRA at Royal Holloway, University of London (1993-94), where he worked with John Lowe on late-glacial environmental change in Scotland. Shortly after taking up his first academic post at the University of Leicester in late 1994, Frank's research focus shifted to tropical South America, where he has worked ever since, in particular on the long-term history of Amazonian tropical forest ecosystems. He moved to The University of Edinburgh in 2004, before returning to Reading in June 2013.

His pioneering work in the Amazon, published in Science (2000), demonstrated the responsiveness of southern Amazonian forests to millennial-scale climate change. Much of his career since then has focused on forest-savanna ecotonal responses to Late Quaternary climatic change in Amazonian Bolivia, where he has led 10 field expeditions to remote corners of the country, in collaboration with the 'Noel Kempff Mercado' Natural History Museum of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. His lab has assembled a world-renowned Neotropical pollen reference collection (over 1200 Amazonian taxa) and has made important methodological advances in pollen analysis and other palaeoenvironmental techniques.

In recent years, Frank has become increasingly interested in the complex interplay between human land use, fire, climate change and ecosystem dynamics through the Holocene - across Amazonia and elsewhere in tropical South America. This has led to fruitful, inter-disciplinary collaboration with palaeoenvironmental scientists, biologists, and archaeologists across the world - in the UK, Germany, USA, Bolivia, and Brazil.

He was PI on two recently completed research projects, entitled Pre-Columbian human land-use and impacts in the Bolivian Amazon (The Leverhulme Trust, 2010-2013), and Environmental Impact of the Pre-Columbian geoglyph builders in western Amazonia (National Geographic, 2012-2013). He is currently co-I on: a) a large research grant, co-funded by AHRC (UK) and FAPESP (Sao Paulo state, Brazil), entitled Je Landscapes of southern Brazil: Ecology, History and Power in a transitional landscape during the late Holocene (2014-2017); and b) a Newton research grant, co-funded by NERC and FAPEAM (Amazonas state, Brazil), entitled The Origins of Plant Domestication in the Upper Madeira river basin in lowland South America (2015-2016).

Frank is a 'Special Visiting Researcher' to CENA/University of Sao Paulo, on a project entitled Origin of Biodiversity in the Central Atlantic Forest of Brazil, funded by Brazil's CNPq 'Science Without Borders' programme (2014-2016). He is also Project Partner on a large, multi-disciplinary research consortium, entitled Assembly and evolution of the Amazonian biota and its environment: an integrated approach, co-funded by FAPESP (Sao Paulo state, Brazil) and NSF (USA), 2013-2016.

Frank is Associate Editor for The Holocene (2006 - present) and is a member of the Landcover6K project and the NERC radiocarbon committee (2014 - present).

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This list was generated on Tue Jul 14 01:02:58 2020 UTC.
Dr Frank Mayle

Contact Details

+44 (0) 118 378 6260

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