Hayley Keen

Keen_photo_28March14low res

PhD student

Phone: +44 (1)908 655298

Email: hayley.keen-8AT8-open.ac.uk


I am a NERC/ OU funded PhD student (2011 to present) in the Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems. The title of my current research is ‘Past environmental change in the Amazon Basin’.


My research focuses on the palaeoecology of Neotropical ecosystems within the Quaternary Period of geological time. The main focus of my work is to investigate how the plant community changed throughout geological time and how this varied spatially. For this purpose I use a variety of biological proxies including pollen, micro- and macro-scopic charcoal, non-pollen palynomorphs and wood macrofossils. To compliment this I am also using other techniques to gain further information about the site stratigraphy and depositional environment including loss on ignition, X – Ray fluorescence (XRF), 40Ar/39Ar radiometric dating and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating. Using these proxies I am investigating the following research areas:

  • Landscape evolution on the Eastern Andean flank
  • Past vegetation changes in dynamic tropical ecosystems
  • Tropical ecosystem resilience and resistance
  • Quaternary ecological change in the Neotropics

As part of my PhD research so far I have developed a statistical model which takes into account individual samples to produce a specific count size used for the counting of pollen (also transferable to other biological proxies). This is currently under review for publication.

As part of the Palaeoenvironmental Change team, my research is best described by the the palaeoecology theme (terrestrial palaeoecology in the tropics), and further information about me and my work can be found at our Ecology of the past blog and website.


BSc Geography, University of Leicester

MRes Geography, University of Leicester (Title: Past and present day distribution of Mauritiidites franciscoi and Mauritia flexuosa.)


Dr William D. Gosling, Dr Encarni Montoya and Dr Sarah Sherlock



  • Gosling, W.D., Montoya, E., Keen, H.F., Matthews –Bird, F., Jardine, P., Fraser, W.T., Julier, A. and Lomax, B. (2014) Frontiers in tropical palaeoecology, Quaternary Research Association annual discussion meeting, London.
  • Keen, H.F., Gosling, W.D. and Hanke, F (2012). Pollen counting for diverse tropical ecosystems. Linnean society palynology specialist group, London.