Kristyna_H_Pre-Course Blog Post


My name is Kristyna and I live in Prague (Czech Republic). I am a plant ecologist by training with special emphasis on paleoecology. I study silica microparticles called phytoliths that emerge in living plants and thanks to their high durability in sediments (sometimes even 100 mil. years) they serve perfectly for the past ecosystem reconstruction. However, a great deal of work needs to be done before the ‘smooth’ application of phytolith analysis in paleoecology. So, I mainly wonder about the shape and size variation of phytoliths from living plants and modern soils along environmental gradients, same as how species relatedness and species ecological adaptation are reflected by phytolith shape. I’ve been lucky enough to do so in places like North East Africa and Siberia.

My goal for the upcoming course in Peru is to step out of my ‘microworld’ safe zone, both in terms of meeting new people experienced in trait-based ecology and learning more about scaling from individual plant traits to ecosystems. I particularly wonder about the ecosystem productivity, since the reconstruction of its dynamics during Quaternary could help to solve crucial questions, for example, how vegetation in glacial periods could have supported large mammal’s communities. I think of the course as successful if I become confident in thinking about the problem. I’m most excited about all practical work during the upcoming course because it might help me to understand better some theories behind trait-based ecology. Of course, I’m very much looking forward to working in Puna grassland.

It’s hard for me to anticipate what will people think about climate change in Peru. I guess that their view will be largely influenced by everyday experience (e.g. crop production) and they will care less about global issues, as for example, if global warming is caused by human activities. In contrast, public perceptions of climate change in the Czech Republic seem to be related to political preferences more than to nature itself. However, if I had to think about global warming-related issue that resonates with people the most that would probably be extreme droughts and subsequent bark beetle calamity in forests. Besides that, environmental issues that are not driven by climate change, for example, massive degradation of soils due to extensive agriculture has become a burning issue for many people.

I’m looking forward to meeting you all soon!


My first big field trip to Sudan. That was awesome to work with paleoecologists and archaeologists interested in the greening of the Sahara during the mid-Holocene. [ Photo: Petr Pokorny]

Searching for the European glacial conditions analogy in Yakutia with my colleagues and friends. [Photo: Petr Pokorny]

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