My science is relevant to Biodiversity Promotion and Nature Conservation, developing evidences from the fields of Ecology, Vegetation Science and Palaeoecology. I am currently a D.Phil (PhD) student funded by NERC at the Oxford Long-Term Ecology Laboratory. Before starting this D.Phil with Kathy and Shonil, I completed a dissertation project focussed on alternative stable regimes in ecology using diatom and macrofossils from a shallow lake. This was part of my NERC funded MSc in Quaternary Science at UCL and Royal Holloway University of London, for which I obtained a distinction and the Elsevier Price for best student. This MSc was the ideal specialisation after my first class honour BSc in Botany at the University of Reading. During my undergraduate time I also worked as an archaeobotany technician in the Archaeology Department, Reading. Previous research experience includes a job for the Swiss Agriculture Research Centre. In addition, I am a keen field botanist and I am also developing my skills in bryology.
My thesis aims to contribute to a greater understanding of the interaction between grazing and long-term vegetation processes. Field work is being carried out in three Northern European sites: i) Oostvaardersplassen Nature Reserve, The Netherlands, a heavily grazed grassland, ii) The New Forest, UK, with mosaic habitats, and iii) Białowieża Forest, Poland, an ancient closed-canopy woodland. This thesis will develop and apply methods in palaeoecology: (i) analysis of landscape modern analogues overlooked so far, (ii) development of phytolith analysis, and (iii) investigation of past grazing intensity using coprophilous fungal spores. Past fossil assemblages both newly analysed and from the literature will be compared with the modern analogue assemblages investigated. It is speculated that this thesis will provide a new insight into the interaction between grazing and long-term vegetation processes in Northern Europe. Thus it will make a critical contribution to the debate on re-wilding, thereby addressing the fundamental challenge of nature conservation in the human-dominated landscapes of Northern Europe.
“50 Most Pressing Question in Palaeoecology” (Palaeo50). Oxford, December 2012.
Workshop being organised with Dr Anson Mackay (UCL) and Dr Alistair Seddon (Oxford). Funded by PAGES, The Biodiversity Institute of the Oxford Martin School, the BES and The QRA.
“Building Evidences for Wilderness Restoration and Re-Wilding Initiatives”
Oral presentation at the 3rd ECCB, Glasgow, UK, August 2012
“A methodological step forward to quantify past population size of large herbivores and the impact of their disturbance regime”
Oral presentation at the 97th ESA annual meeting, Portland, USA, August 2012
“Which fungal spores are indicative of herbivore activity? And how can we interpret their abundances?”
Oral presentation at the 5th NPP Workshop, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, July 2012
Field Botany Experience
- Forest of Bialowieza, Poland, 2011. Woodland vegetation survey for pollen deposition modelling (in collaboration with colleagues at Gdansk University, Poland).
- Thursley Common, England, 2011. Bryophyte and lichen diversity study (with Georgina Southon at Imperial College London, UK).
- Oostvaardersplassen, The Netherlands, 2010. Grassland vegetation survey for pollen deposition modelling.
- The New Forest, England, 2010. Heathland, grassland and woodland vegetation survey for pollen deposition modelling.
- Moor Corpse Nature Reserve, England, 2007. Botanical Survey for the BBO Wildlife Trust. Report to be downloaded from the BSBI Site Flora scheme web site.
- Geneva City Centre, Switzerland, 2005. Botanical Biodiversity Survey at the heart of a city.
Identification projects in palaeoecology
- Key to the Fungal Spores Indicator of Large Herbivore
- Catalogue of Macrofossil Types
Baker, A.G., Bhagwat, S.A., Willis, K.J., 2013. Do dung fungal spores make a good proxy for past distribution of large herbivores? Quaternary Science Reviews 62, 21–31.
Kirby, K.J. & Baker, A. (2013) The dynamics of pre-Neolithic landscapes and their relevance to modern conservation. In Trees, forested landscapes and grazing animals, edited by I.D. Rotherham, Earthscan,Routledge, Abingdon, pp87-98
Jenkins EL, Baker AG, Elliot S. (2011) Plant Use in Jordan as revealed by archaeological and ethnoarchaeological phytolith signatures. In Mithen S. and Black E. (Eds.) Water, Life and Civilisation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Baker AG, Jenkins EL. (Submitted). Phytolith. In Baird D (Eds.) Monograph of the Shuna Project (Jordan 5th and 4th millennia city site)
Delabays, N., Bohren, C., Mermillod, G., Baker, A., and Vertenten, J. (2008) Breaking the life cycle of the Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) to exhaust the seed bank. I. Efficiency and optimisation of various mowing schemes. Revue Suisse d’Agriculture, 40, 143-149. (Publication in French with English abstract)
Delabays, N., Bohren, C., Mermillod, G., Baker, A., and Vertenten, J. (2008) Breaking the life cycle of the Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) to exhaust the seed bank. II. Efficiency of herbicides, used singly or in combination with mowing. Revue Suisse d’Agriculture, 40, 191-198. (Publication in French with English abstract)