DTP Research

Profile Display Name:

Ashley Abrook

E-mail Address:


Start Year

2014 (Cohort 1)

Research interests:

Academically I have interests in palaeoenvironmental change and palaeoclimatology, specifically, the responses of vegetation to abrupt climate change within the late Quaternary period. I am also a member of the Quaternary Research Association.

Hobbies and interests:
PhD Project
PhD Title

Understanding the dynamics of vegetation: delineating drivers of change within periods of abrupt sub-millennial climatic variability

Research Theme

Past Life and Environments

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



Abrupt changes in climatic and environmental records are common within the Quaternary period; making them ideal research areas to investigate drivers of vegetation change. At present two competing hypotheses exist that seek to explain changes in vegetation, the dynamic equilibrium hypothesis and the disequilibrium hypothesis (Prentice et al., 1991). The former highlights allogenic climatic forcing, and associated secondary drivers including edaphic conditioning and wildfire, whereas the latter identifies autogenic factors, including population dynamics, plant-plant interactions and seed dispersal (Seddon et al., 2015). Whilst these two hypotheses may not be mutually exclusive, it is likely that the ultimate driver of vegetation is climate. However, if climate is driving vegetation change, it is currently unclear which specific climatic parameters force responses in vegetation. The Late-Glacial and early Holocene periods, within the British Isles, provide an ideal framework with temperature and vegetation oscillations demonstrating climatic and ecological complexity. This research will address what drives sub-millennial vegetation change through the generation of high-resolution palynological, palaeohydrological deuterium isotopic biomarker and macro-charcoal records. The generation and comparison of these records with additional palaeoclimatic data, from the same site, will disentangle whether climate, or which climatic parameter, drives vegetation change over sub-millennial climatic events.

Policy Impact
Background Reading
Conferences and Workshops
  • Palaeoecology Conference Cardiff (September 2016). Poster: Does vegetation respond to centennial-scale climatic oscillations? Evidence from Tirinie, a Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition (LGIT) site in the Scottish Highlands.
  • QRA Postgraduate Symposium (September 2016). Talk: Does vegetation respond to centennial scale climatic oscillations? Evidence from Tirinie, a Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition site in the Scottish Highlands..
  • INTIMATE (Integrating Ice-Core, Marine and Terrestrial records) open workshop and conference (June 2017). Talk: Vegetation responses to abrupt climatic change during the Last Glacial-Interglacial Transition: Evidence from Tirinie, Scotland.
  • INTIMATE (Integrating Ice-core, Marine and Terrestrial records) open workshop. Poster: Using high resolution tephrochronology to constrain early Holocene climatic oscillations: Evidence from Quoyloo Meadow, Orkney.
Training courses
  • Conference Organising, hosted by Royal Holloway, University of London; Quaternary Research Association. September 2017
  • Introduction to Scientific Programming, hosted by Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • Macro-charcoal Analysis, hosted by Mark Hardiman (University of Portsmouth).
  • Managing and Analysing your Data, hosted by Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • Dealing with Reviewers Comments, hosted by Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • Biomarker Laboratory/Interpretation Training, hosted by Dr. Dirk Sachse (GFZ, Potsdam).
  • Isle of Skye Field Excursion, hosted by QRA.
  • QRA field excursion to the Vale of Pickering
Social Links
University Departmental Website:

Personal Website:





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