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Dr Bronwen Whitney


Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences

Bronwen WhitneyI studied for my PhD at the University of Edinburgh (2005 – 2009) where I examined climate and vegetation change from the last glacial period until present in the world’s largest tropical wetland.  From there, I continued my research into human and climatic causes of tropical environmental change and I joined Northumbria University in January 2015

Campus Address

Ellison Building 212A

0191 349 5934



Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research contributes to understanding the climatic and human influences on tropical biome distribution, species abundance, and biodiversity. Using pollen and other microfossils preserved in sedimentary environments, such as algal remains and microscopic charcoal, I analyse how tropical plant communities have responded to historical disturbances.  My research also extends as far back as the
last ice age to gauge how tropical biomes have responded to high magnitude
climate change

Current/Recent Projects

  • Elucidating patterns of Pre-Columbian land-use in Amazonia and surrounding regions
  • Understanding rapid climate change in lowland South America during the last      glacial-interglacial transition
  • Applying pollen-vegetation models to estimate Pre-Columbian human impact in Amazonian forest
  • A palaeoecological exploration of tropical peat formation and vegetation dynamics in Mesoamerica and Amazonia

Key Publications

Whitney BS, Dickau R, Mayle FE, Walker JH, Soto JD, Iriarte J. (2014) Pre-Columbian raised-field agriculture and land use in the Bolivian Amazon. The Holocene, 24: 231-241

Carson JF, Whitney BS, Mayle FE, Iriarte J, Prümers H, Soto JD, Watling J (2014) Environmental impact of geometric earthwork construction in pre-Columbian Amazonia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(29): 10497-10502.

Metcalfe SE, Whitney BS, Fitzpatrick KA, Mayle FE, Loader NJ, Mann DG. (2014) Hydrology and Climatology at Laguna La Gaiba, lowland Bolivia: complex responses to climatic forcings over the last 25,000 years. Journal of Quaternary Science, 29: 289-300

Whitney BS, Dickau R, Mayle FE, Soto JD, Iriarte J. (2013) Pre-Columbian landscape impact and agriculture in the Monumental Mound Region of the Llanos de Moxos, lowland Bolivia. Quaternary Research, 80: 207-217

Whitney BS, Rushton EAC, Carson JF, Iriarte J, Mayle FE. (2012) An improved methodology for the recovery of Zea mays and other large crop pollen, with implications for environmental archaeology in the Neotropics. The Holocene, 22: 1087-1096

Whitney BS, Mayle FE, Punyasena SW, Fitzpatrick KA, Burn MJ, Guillen R, Chavez E, Mann D, Pennington RT, Metcalfe SE. (2011) A 45 kyr palaeoclimate record from the lowland interior of tropical South America. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 307: 177-192

My Northumbria Research Link can be found here

My Google Scholar Link can be found here


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