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Oliver Wilson – University of Reading

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Oliver Wilson

Assessing the resilience of Brazil's iconic Araucaria forests to past and future climate change.

 Brazil's Araucaria forests are iconic, ancient, and vanishing. Araucaria trees are living fossils that have spent millennia at the heart of human cultures, but up to 97% of them were destroyed by 20th-Century logging. 21st-Century climate change poses a new, possibly final, threat to this Critically Endangered species. This project aims to help conserve Brazil's Araucaria forests by predicting their future under changing conditions, as well as by uncovering how the ecosystem responded to climate changes and human actions in past millennia. Specific questions include:

  • What disruption will human-caused climate change cause Araucaria trees in the coming decades? Will topographic microrefugia shelter populations from generally unfavourable conditions?
  • How did the last 21,000 years of long-term climate change affect the distribution and composition of southern Brazil's ecosystems?
  • To what extent did pre-Columbian indigenous people shape today's Araucaria forests and override natural climate-caused dynamics?


About Me:

My interest in the relationships between plants, people and climate change in the past, present and future was sparked while studying Biological Sciences at Brasenose College, Oxford, and developed during my MSc in Ethnobotany at the University of Kent. Later, I studied for a PGCE in secondary science (biology) at Canterbury Christ Church University and was a teacher in Kent. I started my PhD and Graduate Teaching Assistant post in January 2017.
I am passionate about communicating my research - and science more generally - to non-specialist audiences. I've participated in and led a number of successful outreach events, and developed the 3D Pollen Project to help with this. I have received outreach grants from NERC and the BES, won Reading's 2019 Doctoral Engagement Prize, and was the 2020 PhD Researcher of the Year in the Heritage and Creativity research theme.

Research Interests:

  • Biogeography.
  • Palaeoecology.
  • Ethnobotany.
  • Conservation.

Research Groups:

Tropical Palaeoecology Research Group

  Oli W




Professor Frank Mayle (University of Reading)

Dr Richard Walters (Lund University)

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