Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Photographer: Crystal Mc Michael

dr. C.N.H. (Crystal) McMichael

Assistant Professor
  • Faculty of Science
    IBED
  • Visiting address
    Science Park A
    Science Park 904  Room number: C4.168
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  94248
    1090 GE  Amsterdam
  • C.N.H.McMichael@uva.nl
    T: 0205257316

Crystal is an Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam, in the  Department of Ecosystem and Landscape Dynamics within the  Institute of Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED). Her research is mainly focused on exploring how disturbances, including past human activity and fires, affect modern ecosystems. Most of her work is focused in the tropics, although she does have projects on other topics and in other geographic regions.

Within IBED, Crystal also teaches courses in Palaeoecology, Tropical Ecology, Measurement Strategies, and Envrionments Through Time. 

Crystal is also part of the LandUse6k working group (http://landuse.uchicago.edu/), and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis Climate Proxies working group (http://www.nimbios.org/workinggroups/WG_proxies). 

Crystal is also active in several scientific organizations, including the British Ecological Society (BES), International Biogeography Society (IBS), Ecological Society of America (ESA), and the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC). 

Crystal is also an Associate Editor at the Journal of Ecology.

More details of her current research can be found on the 'Research Focus' tab

  • Distributions of ancient people (archaeological sites) in tropical forests
  • Human impacts in tropical forests
  • Human-environmnet interactions 
  • Pollen distribution mapping
  • Using remote sensing to detect archaeological features under forest canopies
  • Timing and transition to maize agriculture in the Michigan/Great Lakes region

 

My primary research focus involves spatial and temporal analyses of past people (both ancient and during the historical period) in tropical forests, particularly the Amazonian rain forest. For years it was thought that Amazonia had been a ‘pristine forest’ until Europeans arrived to the American continent in 1492 A.D. However, archaeologists have recently uncovered evidence of large and sedentary occupation sites in several regions of the Basin. My research uses soil charcoal, phytoliths, and ecological modeling, and remote sensing to predict when, where, and at what intensity the Amazon rainforest was modified or transformed prior to European contact. New and upcoming research will also include examining whether pre-Columbian or post-Columbian settlement patterns are associated with specific forest types  or species abundance distributions within Amazonia, or whether the forest types are legacies of pre-Columbian civilizations.

I am also working on parallel projects in Central and South America involving high-resolution reconstructions of paleo-climate and vegetation change using pollen and charcoal analyses. To fully analyze past climate and vegetation patterns, an understanding of modern climate-vegetation relationships is needed. The major limitation in calibrating the modern dataset with paleo-datasets is pollen identification, which is currently possible only to the family or genus level. I am involved with a collaborative effort to improve pollen taxonomy using microscopy and chemical techniques. We will use this improved taxonomic resolution for detecting decadal-scale responses of vegetation to drought events and other natural disturbances. We will also use these methodological improvements to create transfer functions that quantitatively predict temperature and precipitation regimes for the last 2000 years across Central and South America.

I am also involved in projects that involve modeling archaeological and paleoecological data within the United States. One project involves examining the timing and spread of maize agriculture in the Midwest/Great Lakes region of the US. This is an interdisciplinary project with a team of archaeologists and remote sensing experts from the University of New Hampshire and Florida Institute of Technology. We are predicting the timing and spatial patterns of pre-Columbian maize agriculture and earthwork formation across the region based on existing archaeological and paleoecological datasets and remotely sensed data. We will then test the predictive models with field-collected paleoecological and archaeological data. 

2017

  • McMichael, C. N. H., Feeley, K., Dick, C. W., Piperno, D. R., & Bush, M. B. (2017). Comment on “Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition”. Science, 358(6361).
  • Bush, M. B., Correa-Metrio, A., van Woesik, R., Shadik, C. R., & McMichael, C. N. H. (2017). Human disturbance amplifies Amazonian El Niño-Southern Oscillation signal. Global Change Biology, 23(8), 3181-3192. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13608  [details] 
  • McMichael, C. N. H., Matthews-Bird, F., Farfan-Rios, W., & Feeley, K. J. (2017). Ancient human disturbances may be skewing our understanding of Amazonian forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(3), 522-527. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1614577114  [details] 
  • Gosling, W. D., de Kruif, J., Norder, S., de Boer, E., Hooghiemstra, H., Rijsdijk, K. F., & McMichael, C. N. H. (2017). Mauritius on fire: Tracking historical human impacts on biodiversity loss. Biotropica. DOI: 10.1111/btp.12490 

2016

  • Bush, M. B., & McMichael, C. N. H. (2016). Holocene variability of an Amazonian hyperdominant. Journal of Ecology, 104(5), 1370-1378. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12600 
  • Howey, M. C. L., Palace, M. W., & McMichael, C. H. (2016). Geospatial modeling approach to monument construction using Michigan from A.D. 1000-1600 as a case study. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(27), 7443-7448. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1603450113  [details] 
  • Bush, M. B., Correa-Metrio, A., McMichael, C. H., Sully, S., Shadik, C. R., Valencia, B. G., ... Overpeck, J. T. (2016). A 6900-year history of landscape modification by humans in lowland Amazonia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 141, 52-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.03.022 
  • Raczka, M. F., Bush, M. B., Folcik, A. M., & McMichael, C. H. (2016). Sporormiella as a tool for detecting the presence of large herbivores in the Neotropics. BIOTA NEOTROPICA, 16(1). DOI: 10.1590/1676-0611-BN-2015-0090 

2015

  • McMichael, C. H., Piperno, D. R., & Bush, M. B. (2015). Comment on Clement et al. 2015 "The domestication of Amazonia before European conquest". Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 282(1821), [1837]. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1837  [details] 
  • McMichael, C. N. H., Piperno, D. R., Neves, E. G., Bush, M. B., Almeida, F. O., Mongelo, G., & Eyjolfsdottir, M. B. (2015). Phytolith assemblages along a gradient of ancient human disturbance in western Amazonia. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 3, [141]. DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2015.00141  [details] 
  • Bush, M. B., McMichael, C. H., Piperno, D. R., Silman, M. R., Barlow, J., Peres, C. A., ... Palace, M. W. (2015). Anthropogenic influence on Amazonian forests in prehistory: An ecological perspective. Journal of Biogeography, 42(12), 2277-2288. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12638  [details] 
  • Piperno, D. R., McMichael, C., & Bush, M. B. (2015). Amazonia and the Anthropocene: What was the spatial extent and intensity of human landscape modification in the Amazon Basin at the end of prehistory? Holocene, 25(10), 1588-1597. DOI: 10.1177/0959683615588374  [details] 
  • Thomas, E., Alcázar Caicedo, C., McMichael, C. H., Corvera, R., & Loo, J. (2015). Uncovering spatial patterns in the natural and human history of Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) across the Amazon Basin. Journal of Biogeography, 42(8), 1367-1382. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12540  [details] 

2014

  • McMichael, C. H., Palace, M. W., Bush, M. B., Braswell, B., Hagen, S., Neves, E. G., ... Czarnecki, C. (2014). Predicting pre-Columbian anthropogenic soils in Amazonia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 281(1777), [20132696]. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2475 
  • McMichael, C. N. H., Palace, M. W., & Golightly, M. (2014). Bamboo-dominated forests and pre-Columbian earthwork formations in south-western Amazonia. Journal of Biogeography, 41(9), 1733-1745. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12325 
  • McMichael, C. N. H., Palace, M. W., Bush, M. B., Braswell, B., Hagen, S., Neves, E. G., ... Czarnecki, C. (2014). Unmodified pre-Columbian soils in western Amazonia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 281, 20132475.
  • Howey, M. C., Palace, M. W., McMichael, C. N. H., & Braswell, B. (2014). Moderate-resolution remote sensing and geospatial analyes of microclimates, mounds, and maize in the Northern Great Lakes. Advances in Archaeological Practice, 2(3), 195-207.

2013

  • McMichael, C. N. H., Bush, M. B., Silman, M. R., Piperno, D. R., Raczka, M. F., Lobato, L. C., ... Palace, M. W. (2013). Historical fire and bamboo dynamics in western Amazonia. Journal of Biogeography, 40, 299-309. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12002 
  • Hwang, G., Riley, K., Christou, C. T., Jacyna, G. M., Woodard, J. P., Ryan, R., ... Punyasena, S. (2013). Automated pollen identification system for forensic geo-historical location applications. In Technologies for Homeland Security
  • Raczka, M. F., de Oliveira, P., Bush, M. B., & McMichael, C. N. H. (2013). Two paleoecological histories spanning the period of human settlement in southeastern Brazil. Journal of Quaternary Science, 28, 144-151. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2597 
  • Urrego, D. H., Bush, M. B., Silman, M. R., Niccum, B., de la Rosa, P., McMichael, C. N. H., ... Palace, M. W. (2013). Holocene fires, forest stability, and human occupation in south-western Amazonia. Journal of Biogeography, 40, 521-533. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12016 

2012

  • McMichael, C. N. H., Bush, M. B., Piperno, D. R., Silman, M. R., & Zimmerman, A. (2012). Scales of pre-Columbian disturbance associated with western Amazonian lakes. Holocene, 22, 131-141. DOI: 10.1177/0959683611414932 
  • McMichael, C. N. H., Correa-Metrio, A., & Bush, M. B. (2012). Pre-Columbian fire regimes in lowland tropical forests of southeaster Peru. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 342-343, 73-83. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.05.004 
  • McMichael, C. N. H., Piperno, D. R., Bush, M. B., Silman, M. R., Zimmermann, A., Raczka, M. F., & Lobato, L. C. (2012). Sparse pre-Columbian human habitation in western Amazonia. Science, 336, 1429-1431. DOI: 10.1126/science.1219982 

2008

  • Bush, M. B., Silman, M. R., McMichael, C. N. H., & Saatchi, S. (2008). Fire, climate change and biodiversity in Amazonia: a Late-Holocene perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences, 363(1498), 1795-1802. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2007.0014 

2017

  • Piperno, D. R., McMichael, C., & Bush, M. B. (2017). Further evidence for localized, short-term anthropogenic forest alterations across pre-Columbian Amazonia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(21), E4118-E4119. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1705585114  [details] 

2014

  • Bush, M. B., Raczka, M. F., de Oliveira, P., Gosling, W. D., Mayle, F. E., Urrego, D. H., & McMichael, C. N. H. (2014). Amazonia: an ice-age view. In Paleoclimas - Série Paleontologia: Cenários de Vida. (pp. 341-356). Sao Paulo, Brazil: Interciência.
  • Bush, M. B., McMichael, C. N. H., Raczka, M. F., de Toledo, M. B., Power, M. J., Mayle, F. E., & de Oliveira, P. (2014). The Holocene of the Amazon. In Paleoclimas - Série Paleontologia: Cenários de Vida Sao Paulo, Brazil: Interciência.

2015

  • McMichael, C. (2015). Book Review: Cultural Forests of the Amazon: A Historical Ecology of People and Their Landscapes [Review of: W. Balée (2013). University of Alabama Press, 2014. 288 pp. ISBN 978-0-8173-7; Ebook ISBN 978-0-0173-8655-9. Biological Conservation, 182, 286-287. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2014.10.029  [details] 

2016

  • Schiferl, J., Bush, M. B., & McMichael, C. N. H. (2016). A paleoecological analysis of Lake Palotoa, Peru. Poster session presented at Ecological Society of America, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, United States.
  • Raczka, M. F., Bush, M. B., Folcik, A. M., & McMichael, C. N. H. (2016). Coprophilous fungi Sporormiella as a proxy for modern herbivores presence in the Neotropics.
  • Sales, R., McMichael, C. N. H., & Bush, M. B. (2016). Climate and human influences in Michigan paleoecosystems. Poster session presented at Ecological Society of America, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, United States.

Talk / presentation

  • McMichael, Crystal (speaker) (10-11-2017): Are past human activities related to observed biodiversity and carbon dynamics in Amazonian forests?, Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests.
  • McMichael, Crystal (speaker) (13-8-2016): The effects of ancient human disturbance on Amazonian vegetation, Ecological Society of America.
  • McMichael, Crystal (speaker) (23-6-2016): Holocene Variability of an Amazonian Hyperdominant, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
  • McMichael, Crystal (speaker) (25-2-2016): Phytolith signatures along a gradient of ancient human disturbance in western Amazonia, European Conference of Tropical Ecology, Germany.
  • McMichael, Crystal (speaker) (29-9-2015): The effects of ancient human disturbance on Amazonian vegetation, Wageningen UR.

Others

  • McMichael, Crystal (participant) (1-10-2017): LandUse 6k (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library  or the Pure staff  of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure  to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool  to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
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