Alistair William Robin Seddon






I am a long-term ecologist and global-change ecologist studying ecological responses to environmental change. I lead the PalaeoChem Research Group, where we are developing new methods to (i) reconstruct UV-B radiation in sediments based on pollen-chemical biomarkers and (ii) investigate other applications of pollen chemistry in long-term ecology. I am also co-PI on the HOPE project and, as a member of the Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group, I am interested in using long-term ecological and other time-series datasets to better understand drivers of ecosystem and biodiversity change in the past, present and future.

See below for some recent research highlights.

Research Highlights

  • 07/2021: Our paper on the variations of UV-B absorbing compounds along elevation gradients has been published online in Journal of Ecology
  • 06/2021: In a very successful round for the Bjerknes Center, we were one of the lucky few to be awarded funding from the Norwegian Research Council to do more research in UV-B absorbing compounds in Pinus sylvestris. A new postdoc position will be announced soon.
  • 05/2021: I was part of the senior author team of new publication in ScienceWe have made a short summary of the article on the Bjerknes Centre website here, and the paper also has a summary in National Geographic.
  • 01/2021: My editorial for a special feature on ecological resilience is now out in Biology Letters. This is a contribution from the EcoRe3 PAGES working group.
  • 08/2020: In a collaboration with Christin Abel and others at the University of Copenhagen, I was part of a team to publish a new study on drivers of vegetation productivity in global drylands. See the paper in Nature Sustainability here
  • 02/2020: I contributed to some of the writing in a chapter on Biodiversity in the latest Our Future on Earth Report by Future Earth. As stated in the synopsis: "Humanity is at a critical stage in the transition to a more sustainable planet and society. Our actions in the next decade will determine our collective path forward. Our Future on Earth 2020 aims to tell the story of where we are on our collective journey by connecting the dots between what society is currently experiencing – from fires to food shortages to a rise in populism – with recent developments in the research community."
  • 02/2020: Florian Muthreich, PhD student in the PalaeoChem group has published his first paper in the Journal of Biogeography. Congrats Florian!
  • 10/2019: Former Master student Erik Kusch awarded two second-place poster prizesat the International Society for Ecological Modelling Conference in Salzburg. Congrats Erik!
  • 09/2019: A new preprint is up online at BioRxiv. PhD student Florian Muthriech's first first-author paper! We have the reviews back and are working on getting it resubmitted ASAP. In the paper we investigate whether chemical techniques can be used to distinguish pollen of different Quercus pollen types.
  • 07/2019: Masters student Erik Kusch defended his thesis today and got an A! Well done Erik! His work is all up on GitHuband he will soon start a four-month position to write up this work thanks to some Fast-Track Initiative funding from the Bjerknes Center.
  • 01/2019: We published a new perspectives piecedescribing the challenges and prospects of using UV-B absorbing compounds found in pollen and spores to reconstruct the UV-B radiation recieved by plants in the past.
  • 06/2018: New paperwith collegues from the University of Manchester on the drivers of UV-B absorbing compounds in Cedrus atlantica pollen.
  • 12/2017: See our session on geochemical and molecular proxies in palynomorphs at the EPPC in Dublin 2018! Abstracts due 31st Jan:
  • 11/2017: The second EcoRe3 workshop on functional palaeoecology workshop has been announced. See herefor more details!
  • 11/2017: Apply for the following summer school on climatology in Switzerland- I will be giving one of the keynote lectures here:
  • 09/2017: I have two articles in the latest PAGES newsletter on sustaining Earth's biodiveristy using palaeoecology. Both my are articles are related to the activities in EcoRe3
  • 09/2017: Interested in how to quantify UV-B absorbing compounds in pollen more accurately? Then check out our new paper here!
  • 07/2017: Diatoms, diatoms, diatoms! Many new taxa described in a paper from one sample from the Diablas wetlands on Galapagos
  • 02/2017: A new paperon carbon cycling in Lake Baikal using GAMs, published in Global Change Biology with Anson Mackay and colleagues, and anotherin Quaternay International on hydroclimate variabilty in the Holocene in North-East Australia with Ulrike Proske
  • 10/2016: A new paperon priority questions for bark beetle research, led by Jesse Morris (University of Utah) is out now!
  • 03/2016: Some new Masters projects at EECRG are now available. Visit this webpageto find out more.
  • 02/2016: Check out our new paperpublished on a new metric to measure ecosystem sensitivity to climate variability in Nature!
  • 01/2016: This new paper discusses trends in biodiversity over the Holocene. 
  • 08/2015: The PARASOL project is using fossil pollen to reconstruct past changes in high-energy (UV-B) solar radiation from sediment records. I gave a poster on some preliminary results from the project at INQUA2015.

Lecturer in BIO250: Palaeoecology

Lecturer in BIO201: Ecology


Seddon, A.W.R. and Zimmermann, B. Comment on “Dying in the Sun: Direct evidence for elevated UV-B radiation at the end-Permian mass extinction”. Science Advances 9, eadi0570(2023).DOI:10.1126/sciadv.adi0570

Prohaska, A., Seddon, A.W.R., Rach, O., Smith, A., Sachse, D. and Willis, K.J. (2023), Long-term ecological responses of a lowland dipterocarp forest to climate changes and nutrient availability. New Phytol.

Prohaska, A., Seddon, A.W.R., Meese, B. et al. Abrupt change in tropical Pacific climate mean state during the Little Ice Age. Communications Earth and Environment 4, 227 (2023).

Bhatta K.P., Mottl O/, Felde V.A., Flantua S.G.A., Birks H.H., Cao X., Chen F., Grytnes J.-A., Seddon A.W.R.,Birks H.J.B. Exploring spatio-temporal patterns of palynological changes in Asia during the Holocene. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 11, (2023) DOI=10.3389/fevo.2023.1115784

Kusch, E.,  Davy, R. &  Seddon, A.W.R. (2022).  Vegetation-memory effects and their association with vegetation resilience in global drylands. Journal of Ecology,  110,  1561– 1574.

Lamentowicz, M., Seddon A.W.R. and Jassey VEJ (2022) Editorial: Functional Traits as Indicators of Past Environmental Changes. Front. Ecol. Evol. 9:827743. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.827743

Mackay, A.W., Felde, V.A., Morley, D.W., Piotrowska, N., Rioual, P., Seddon, A.W.R., Swann, G.E.A. (2022) Long-term trends in diatom diversity and palaeoproductivity: a 16 000-year multidecadal record from Lake Baikal, southern Siberia. Climates of the Past, 18, 363–380,

Williams, J.W., Huntley, B. & Seddon, A.W.R. (2022) Climate Sensitivity and Ecoclimate Sensitivity: Theory, Usage, and Past Implications for the Future Biospheric Responses.Current Climate Change Reports.

Seddon, A.W.R., Festi, D., Nieuwkerk, M., Gya, R., Krüger, L.C., Östman, S.A.H., Robson, T.M. (2021). Pollen-chemistry variations along elevation gradients and their implications for a proxy for UV-B radiation in the plant-fossil record. Journal of Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13720

Robson, T.M., Bernhard, G.H., Bais, A.F., Seddon, A.W.R., Barnes, P.W. (2021) Floral bullseyes and stratospheric ozoneCurrent Biology, Volume 31, Issue 14,2021.

Brovkin, V., Brook, E., Williams, J.W., Bathiany, S., Lenton, T.M., Barton, M., DeConto, R.M., Donges, J.F., Ganopolski, A., McManus, J., Praetorius, S., de Vernal, A., Abe-Ouchi, A., Cheng, H., Claussen, M., Crucifix, M., Gallopín, G., Iglesias, V., Kaufman, D.S., Kleinen, T., Lambert, ., van der Leeuw, S., Liddy, H., Loutre, M-F, McGee, D., Rehfeld, K., Rhodes, R., Seddon, A.W. R., Trauth, M.H., Vanderveken, L., Yu, Z. (2021) Past abrupt changes, tipping points and cascading impacts in the Earth system. Nature Geoscience, 2021 

Mottl, O., Grytnes, J-A., Seddon, A.W.R., Steinbauer, M.J., Bhatta, K.P., Felde, V.A. Flantua, S.G.A., Birks, H.J.B. (2021) Rate-of-change analysis in paleoecology revisited: A new approachReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Volume 293,104483, ISSN 0034-6667

Mottl, O., Flantua, S.G.A., Bhatta, K.P., Felde, V.A., Giesecke, T., Goring, S., Grimm, E.C., Haberle, S., Hooghiemstra, H., Ivory, S., Kuneš, P., Wolters, S., Seddon, A.W.R., Williams, J.W. (2021) Global acceleration in rates of vegetation change over the last 18,000 years. Science. 372 (6544): 860-864

Seddon, A.W.R. Special feature: measuring components of ecological resilience in long-term ecological datasets, 2021. Biology Letters 17: 20200881.

Abel, C, Horion, S.,  Tagesson, T., De Keersmaecker, W, Seddon, A. W. R., Abdi, A. M. and Fensholt. R, The human–environment nexus and vegetation–rainfall sensitivity in tropical drylands. Nature Sustainability, 2020.

Muthreich, F., Zimmermann, B., Birks, H.J.B., Vila-Viçosa, C.M. and Seddon, A.W.R. (2020) Chemical variations in Quercus pollen as a tool for taxonomic identification: implications for long-term ecological and biogeographic research. Journal of Biogeography

Seddon, A.W.R., Festi, D., Robson, T.M. and Zimmermann, B. (2019) Fossil pollen and spores as a tool for reconstructing ancient solar-ultraviolet irradiance received by plants: an assessment of prospects and challenges using proxy-system modelling. Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences DOI: 10.1039/C8PP00490K 

Bell, B.A, Fletcher, W.J., Ryan, P., Seddon, A.W.R., Wogelius, R.A. and Ilmen, R. (2018) UV-B-absorbing compounds in modern Cedrus atlantica pollen: The potential for a summer UV-B proxy for Northwest AfricaThe Holocene DOI: 10.1177/0959683618777072

Morris, J. L., Cottrell, S., Fettig, C.J.,DeRose, J.R., Mattor, K.M., Carter, V.A., Clear, J., Clement, J. Hansen, W.D., Hicke, J.A., Higuera, P.E., Seddon, A.W.R., Seppä, H., Sherriff, R.L., Stednick, J.D., and Seybold, S.J. (2018). Bark beetles as agents of change in social–ecological systems. Front Ecol Environ 2018; 16(S1): S34–S43, doi: 10.1002/fee.1754

Long, P. R., Benz, D., Martin, A. C., Holland, P. W. A., Macias-Fauria, M., Seddon, A. W. R., Hagemann, R., Frost, T.K., Simpson, A., Power, D.J., Slaymaker, M.A., Willis, K.J. (2017). LEFT-A web-based tool for the remote measurement and estimation of ecological value across global landscapes. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 37, 379–9.

Seddon, A.W.R., Jokerud, M., Barth, T., Birks, H.J.B., Krüger, L., Vandvik, V. and Willis, K.J. (2017). Improved quantification of UV-B absorbing compounds in Pinus sylvestris L. pollen grains using an internal standard methodology. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 247: 97-104

Mackay, A.W., Seddon, A.W.R., Leng, M.J., Heumann, G., Morley, D.W., Piotrowska, N., Rioual, P., Roberts, S., Swann, G.E.A. (2017). Holocene carbon dynamics at the forest – steppe ecotone of southern Siberia. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/gcb.13583

Proske, U., Stevenson, J., Seddon A.W.R., Taffs, K. (2017). Holocene diatom records of wetland development near Weipa, Cape York, Australia. Quaternary International. doi:

Morris, J.L., Carter, V.A., Clear, J., Clement, J., Cottrell, S., DeRose, R.J., Fettig, C.J., Hansen, W.D., Hicke, J.A., Higuera, P.A., Mattor, K.A., Seddon, A.W.R., Seppӓ, H., Seybold, S., Sherriff, R., Stednick, J.D. Bark beetle impacts on social-ecological systems: Priority questions to inspire future research (2016) Journal of Applied Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12782

Seddon, A.W.R., Macias Fauria, M., Long, P., Benz, D. and Willis, K.J. (2016). Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability. Nature 531: 229-231

Birks, H.J.B.B, Astrup-Felde, V. and Seddon, A.W.R. (2016). Biodiversity trends within the Holocene. The Holocene 1- 8. doi: 10.1177/0959683615622568

Lange-Bertalot, H., Witkowski, A., Kulikovskiy, M., Seddon, A.W.R. and Kociolek, J.P. (2015) Taxonomy, frustular morphology and systematics of Platichthys, a new genus of canal raphe bearing diatoms within the Entomoneidaceae. Phytotaxa 236 (2): 135–149

Willis, K.J., Seddon, A.W.R., Long, P., Jeffers, E., Caithness, N., Thurston, M., Smit, M., Hagemann, R., Macias-Fauria, M. (2015) Remote Assessment of Locally Important Ecological Features across Landscapes: How Representative of Reality? Ecological Applications 25(5): 1290-1302

Seddon, A.W.R., Macias-Fauria, M and Willis, K.J. (2015). Climate and abrupt vegetation change in Northern Europe since the last deglaciationThe Holocene 25(1): 25-36

Seddon, A.W.R., Froyd, C.A., Witkowski, A, and Willis, K.J (2014). A quantitative framework for analysis of regime shifts in a Galapagos coastal lagoon. Ecology 95(11): 3046-3055

Macias Fauria, M., Seddon, A.W.R., Long, P., Benz, D. and Willis, K.J. (2014) Spatiotemporal patterns of warming. Response to Ji et al. 2014. Evolution of land surface air temperature trend. Nature Climate Change 4: 845-846 doi:10.1038/nclimate2372

Mace, G.M., Reyers, B., Alkemade, R., Biggs, R., Chapin III F.S., Cornell, S.E., Díaz, S, Jennings, S., Leadley, P.W., Mumby, P.J., Purvis, A., Scholes, R.J., Seddon, A.W.R., Solan, M., Steffen, W., Woodward, G. (2014) Approaches to defining a planetary boundary for biodiversity. Global Environmental Change 28: 289-297 

Seddon, A.W.R., Witkowski, A, Froyd, C.A., Kurdlowski, K.J., Grzonka, J. and Willis, K.J (2014). Diatoms from isolated islands II: Pseudostaurosira diablarum, a new species from a mangrove ecosystem in the Galápagos Islands. Diatom Research 29: 201-211 doi: 10.1080/0269249X.2013.877084 

Seddon A.W.R, Mackay A.W., Baker A.G., Birks H.J.B., Breman E., Buck C.E., Ellis E.C., Froyd C.A., Gill J.A., Gillson L., Johnson E.A., Jones V.J., Juggins S, Macias-Fauria M., Mills K., Morris J.L., Nogués-Bravo D., Punyasena S.W., Roland T.P., Tanentzap A.J., Willis K.J., Aberhan M., van Asperen E.N., Austin W.E.N., Battarbee R.W., Bhagwat S., Belanger C.L., Bennett K.D., Birks H.H., Bronk Ramsey C., Brooks S.J., de Bruyn M., Butler P.G., Chambers F.M., Clarke S.J., Davies A.L., Dearing J.A., Ezard T.H.G., Feurdean A., Flower R.J., Gell P., Hausmann S., Hogan E.J., Hopkins M.J., Jeffers E.S., Korhola A.A., Marchant R., Kiefer T., Lamentowicz M., Larocque-Tobler I., López-Merino L., Hsiang Liow L., McGowan S., Miller J.H., Montoya E., Morton O., Nogué S., Onoufriou C., Park Boush L., Rodriguez-Sanchez F., Rose N.L., Sayer C.D., Shaw H.E., Payne R., Simpson G., Sohar K., Whitehouse N.J., Williams J.W. & Witkowski A. (2014) Looking forward through the past: Identification of 50 priority research questions in palaeoecology. Journal of Ecology 102: 256-267 doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12195

Mackay, A.W, Seddon, A.W.R., Baker, A.G. (2013) Palaeo50: The Priority Research Questions in Palaeoecology. PAGES News 21(2):89

Seddon, A.W.R. (2012) “Paleoecology.” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Ecology. Ed. David Gibson. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Seddon, A.W.R, Froyd C.A., Leng M.J., Milne G.A., Willis K.J. (2011) Ecosystem Resilience and Threshold Response in the Galápagos Coastal Zone. PLoS One 6(7): e22376. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022376

Seddon, A.W.R., Froyd, C.A. and Witkowski, A. (2011) Diatoms (Bacillariophyta) of isolated islands: New taxa in the genus Navicula sensu stricto from the Galápagos IslandsJournal of Phycology 47: 861–879. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2011.01026.x


Nåværende og Tidligere Studenter

Mayke Nieuwkerk (PhD): Greenhouse and field experimental evidence to investigate the chemical response of Pinus spp. to UV-B radiation.

Florian Muthreich (PhD): Drivers of chemical variation in Eucalyptus and Quercus pollen grains within the PollChem project.



Ana Prohaska (PhD, defended 2016), now a Post Doctoral Research Associate at the Department of Zoology, Cambridge University

Mari Jokerud (PhD, Defended 2017), now a research scientist at NINA

Mayke Nieuwkerk (ERASMUS Masters student from the University of Utrecht, defended 2018), now a PhD student at UiB.

Erik Kusch (Masters, defended 2019). Biotic determinants of vegetation sensitivity using remote sensing data. Then a researcher at the Nansen Center/ BIO with funding from a Bjerknes Centre Fast Track Initiative. Now a PhD student at the University of Aarhus.

Kristina Svare (Masters): Holocene vegetation history and tree-line changes in Rondane.


Seddon, A.W.R., Festi, D., Nieuwkerk, M., Gya, R., Krüger, L.C., Östman, S.A.H., Robson, T.M. (2021). Pollen-chemistry variations along elevation gradients and their implications for a proxy for UV-B radiation in the plant-fossil record

- 21.05.2021. This paper is now accepted at the Journal of Ecology- look out for the paper in print soon!

- 06.07.2021. This paper is now published online at the Journal of Ecology. The link has been changed to the Open Access version of the paper.

Muthreich, F., Tafintseva, V., Zimmermann, B., Kohler, A, Vila-Viçosa, C.; Seddon, A.W.R. (2021) Evaluating the use of FT-Raman spectroscopy in fossil palynology. First version of paper submitted 21-03-2021.