What This Site Is and How to Use it
The principal aim of this website is to gain a better understanding and awareness of the local world around us - immediately around us. Under our feet and in front of our noses. We can do this by observing the features in the landscape and their relationship with each other and to the underlying geological and sedimentary structure of the land; and also to find, examine, and interpret the clues that are hidden and preserved in certain places, as microfossils in lakes and bogs.
An ongoing - and it will take time - part of this project is the sampling of the lakes and bogs of West Cork to find, extract and examine those fossils - pollen, spores, diatoms, phytoliths and others, that have been preserved for maybe thousands of years. Radiocarbon dating of these organic sediments is an essential part of this, for without the dates we have little to pin our evidence on. The sediment is extracted in cores, long tubes of sediment from the surface to the bottom depths; and these are then examined, centimetre by centimetre to see how the changes in the fossils can be used to inform us of the changes in environment as time passed.
So this project incorporates fieldwork and observation, mapping, sampling at sites, and laboratory work in preparing and examining samples. There is a lot of work and it will take a long time. The information, which will build up over time, will be of increasing use to anyone living in the area, because by understanding how the landscape formed, how it adjusted to changes in human populations and usage, to climate changes, to invasion by alien species, all of this can inform us how the landscape behaves and how we as humans can interact best with it, with minimal destruction, and maximal benefit.
By increasing awareness, through engagement and openess, using the principles of Open Science, it is hoped to engender greater interest, involvement.
Open Science has been defined as: “...to make the primary outputs of publicly funded research results – publications and the research data – publicly accessible in digital format with no or minimal restriction”. In fact there is more to it than that. So much of the research, discoveries and all the fascinating stuff is bound up in academic journals, academic institutuions, and, worst of all, academic jargon. The scientific and academic terms are essential - but they can get in the way when the information and excitement is shared with those who do not have the understanding of the academic terms. So making all this understandable is the biggest part of the exercise.
Open Science is the next step in the evolution of Scientific Research that can progress the acquisition, appreciation and use of knowledge through society. To fully appreciate the need for such a step, take a look at Research Culture is Broken; Open Science can Fix It.
There is a lot of information on these webpages, of various disciplines, and it is going to be added to over time. Pages on this site will interlink both within the site and outwardly to external resources. Just as in the natural world, in which there is a network of associations between all the organisms and environmental factors that we study. This is Ecology.
Ecology is a complex subject, complex in both its myriad of relationships and effects, and also in scope. There is a lot in ecology which is imperfectly understood, and some that is not even suspected, and every day new discoveries of relationships and effects within our environment are made.
Palaeoecology, the ecology of the past, is no different. It is just a little more remote and a little harder to fathom.
This website will keep changing, progressing as more work is completed - this will take time because it is a lengthy business, studying nature in detail. The tabs on the right said of this page are used to specify the latest changes, and the work that is currently in progress.
If you are inspired to comment on, engage with, or follow up something you see here, great. Do. Use the Contact page in the menu (and here). It is important that we humans should get more deeply involved with the natural world and undo the disjoint between us.