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Professor Robert Andrew Spicer

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Professional biography

I am an Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences and a Visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Yunnan, China (http://english.xtbg.cas.cn/). Trained initially as a botanist at Imperial College London I subsequently obtained a PhD in Geology, also at Imperial College. That was followed by a three year period working with the United States Geological Survey at Menlo Park California first as a Lindemann Fellow and then as a Research Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. On my return to the UK my first lecturing position was in the Life Sciences department of Goldsmiths College, London, followed by a move to Oxford University where I was a lecturer in Earth Sciences and a Fellow of St Hugh's College. I joined the Open University as Professor and Head of Earth Sciences in 1994 and subsequently became the founding director of CEPSAR (Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research), before university-wide restructuring led to the creation of the school structure including my current unit, the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences.

I was recently awarded the T.M. Harris medal for my 'lifetime achievement' in palaeobotany.

 

Research interests

 

Palaeobotany and Palaeoclimatology

I have ongoing interests in using plant fossils as indicators of past climates with particular emphasis on polar environments at times of global warmth (http://arcticfossils.nsii.org.cn), the uplift of the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau and the development of the Asian monsoon systems. I have an active research program in collaboration with staff at the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, for the development of the quantitative plant-based palaeoclimate proxy known as CLAMP (Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program) http://clamp.ibcas.ac.cn.

I use plant fossil proxy climate data in relation to global climate modelling for past and present climates including the essessment of uncertainties in both modelling and proxies. 

Fundamental to understanding uncertainty in the proxies is determining the processes by which the plant fossil accumulations form (plant taphonomy) and how the these processes may affect the climate signal.

Plants are excellent climate indicators as we can readily see from the world around us. Plants in deserts have few, if any, leaves and those that they do have tend to be small. Rainforest trees and plants on the other hand can have very large leaves and often large numbers of them. These architectural features of plants are similar in similar climates so that rainforests, for example, in Africa, South East Asia and South America look alike even though they contain quite different species. This convergence of form is expressed in the architecture of the whole plant, but also strongly in the form of the leaves.

Leaves are readily fossilised so the geological record contains a vast amount of information about past climates. Qualitative surveys of rocks and fossils show that the average temperature of the Earth has fluctuated through time, but that for about 80% of the time that animals and plants have lived on land the world has been warmer than it is now. Using plant fossils we can quantify a range of parameters such as temperature and rainfall for those past climates. Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program - CLAMP - is a powerful tool for decoding the signal of ancient climate encoded in leaf form. To learn more about CLAMP follow the this link http://clamp.ibcas.ac.cn.

The development of CLAMP is the focus of one of my current research projects being carried out at the Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan, P.R. China and the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences, Lucknow, India. Another project uses CLAMP to track the uplift of the Himalaya and Tibet, as well as climate changes and biodiversity development associated with the evolution of the Asian monsoon systems.

Recent Research Outputs:

187. Spicer, R.A., Su, T., Valdes, P.J., Farnsworth, A., Wu, F.-X., Shi, G., Spicer, T.E.V., Zhou, Z.-K. (2020). Why the 'uplift of the Tibetan Plateau' is a myth. National Science Review nwaa091, https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nwaa091.

186. Taposhi Hasra, Robert A. Spicer, Manoshui Hasra, Sumana Mahato, Teresa E. V. Spicer, Subir Bera, Paul, J. Valdes, Alexander Farnsworth, Alice C. Hughes, Jian Yang, Mahasin Ali Khan. (2020). Latest Neogene monsoon of the Chotanagpur Plateau, eastern India, as revealed by fossil leaf architectural signatures. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 545 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.109641

185. Bowen Song, Robert A. Spicer, Kexin Zhang, Junliang Ji, Alexander Farnsworth, Alice C. Hughes, Yibo Yang, Fang Han, Yadong Xu, Teresa Spicer, Tianyi Shen, Daniel J. Lunt, Gongle Shi. (2020). Qaidam Basin leaf fossils show northeastern Tibet was high, wet and cool in the early Oligocene. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 537: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116175

184. Xiong, Z., Ding, L., Spicer, R.A., Farnsworth, A., Wang, X., Valdes, P.J., Su, T., Zhang, Q., Zhang, L., Cai, F., Wang, H., Li, Z., Song, P., XGuo, X., Yue Y. (2020). The early Eocene rise of the Gonjo Basin, SE Tibet: from Low Desert to High Forest. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 543, 116312. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116312

183. Murray, M., Soh, W.K., Yiotis, C., Spicer, R.A., Lawson, T. McElwain, J.C. 2020. Consistent Relationship between Field-measured Stomatal Conductance and Theoretical Maximum Stomatal Conductance in C3 Woody Angiosperms in Four Major Biomes. International Journal of Plant Sciences.181 (1). Doi:10.1086/706260

182. Cédric Del Rio, Teng-Xiang Wang, Jia Liu, Shui-Qing Liang, Robert A. Spicer, Fei-Xiang Wu, Zhe-Kun Zhou, Tao Su. Asclepiadospermum gen. nov., the earliest fossil record of Asclepiadoideae (Apocynaceae) from the early Eocene of central Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and its biogeographic implications. American Journal of Botany 107 (1): 1–13. doi: 10.1002/ajb2.1418

181. Guo, S.-X., Spicer, R.A., Widdowson, M., Herman, A.B., Domogatskaya, K.V. 2019. The Composition of the Middle Miocene (15 Ma) Namling Palaeoflora, South Central Tibet, in the Context of other Tibetan and Himalayan Floras. Review of Palaeobotany and palynology, 271 http://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2019.06.011

180. Wuu Kuang Soh, Charilaos Yiotis, Michelle Murray, Andrew Parnell, Ian J. Wright, Robert A. Spicer, Tracy Lawson, Rodrigo Caballero, Jennifer C. McElwain. 2019. Rising CO2 rise drives divergence in water-use efficiency of evergreen and deciduous plants. Science Advances 5: eaax7906.

179. Paul J Valdes, Ding Lin, Alex Farnsworth, Robert A. Spicer, Shi-Hu Li, Su Tao. 2019. Comment on “Revised paleoaltimetry data show low Tibetan Plateau elevation during the Eocene” Technical Comment: 10.1126/science.aax8474. Science.

178. Zhou, Z.-K., Su, T. Spicer, R.A., 2019 Understanding the Evolution of Biodiversity in Asia. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology (Editorial).

177. Spicer, R.A., Valdes, P.J., Hughes, A.C., Yang, J., Spicer, T.E.V., Herman, A.B., Farnsworth, A. 2019. New insights into the thermal regime and hydrodynamics of the early Late Cretaceous Arctic. Geological magazine. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0016756819000463

176. Murray, M., Soh, W.K., Yiotis, C. Batke, S., Parnell, A., Spicer, R., Lawson, T., Caballero, R., Wright, I., Purcell, C. McElwain, J. 2019. Convergence in Maximum Stomatal Conductance of C3 Woody Angiosperms in Natural Ecosystems Across Bioclimatic Zones. Frontiers in Plant Science. 10: Article 558. May 7 2019. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2019.00558

175, Tang, He; Liu, Jia; Wu, Feixiang; Magner, T.E.V.; Spicer, R.A.; Deng, Wei-Yu-Dong; Xu, Congli; Zhao, Fan; Huang, Jian; Li, Shu-Feng; Su, Tao; Zhou, Zhekun 2019. An extinct genus Lagokarpos reveals a biogeographic connection of the Tibet with other regions in the Northern Hemisphere during the Paleogene. Journal of Systematics and Evolution. https://doi-org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/10.1111/jse.12505

174. Jia Liu, Tao Su, Robert A. Spicer, He Tang, Wei-Yu-Dong Deng, Fei-Xiang Wu, Gaurav Srivastava, Teresa Spicer, Truong Van Do, Tao Deng, Zhe-Kun Zhou, 2019. Biotic Interchange through lowlands of Tibetan Plateau suture zones during Paleogene. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 524:33-40.

173. Su, T., Farnsworth, A., Spicer, R.A., Huang, J., Wu, F.-X. Liu, J.  Li, S.-F., Xing, Y.-W. Huang, Y.-J. Deng, W.-Y.-D. Tang, H. Xu, C.-L. Zhao, F. Srivastava, G., Valdes, P. J., Deng, T. Zhou, Z.-K., 2019. No high Tibetan Plateau until the Neogene. Science Advances. 5:eaav2189.

172. Maslova, N.P., Karasev, E.V., Kodrul, T.M., Spicer, R.A.,Volkova, L.D., Spicer, T.E.V., Jin, J.-H., Liu, X.-Y. Sun and shade leaf variability in Liquidambar chinensisChampion and Liquidambar formosanaHanse (Altingiaceae): implications for paleobotany. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.188:296–315. https://doi-org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/10.1093/botlinnean/boy047

171. Khan, M.A. Bera, M., Spicer, R.A.,Spicer, T.E.V., Bera, S., 2019. Palaeoclimatic estimates for the late Cenozoic (Mio-Pliocene) Siwalik Flora of Bhutan: Evidence for the development of the South Asian Monsoon in the eastern Himalaya. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 514: 326–335.

170. Khan, M.A. Bera, M., Spicer, R.A.,Spicer, T.E.V., Bera, S, 2018.Floral diversity and environment during the middle Siwalik sedimentation (Pliocene) in the Arunachal sub-Himalaya. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12549-018-0351-2

169. Khan, M.A. Bera, M., Spicer, R.A.,Spicer, T.E.V., Bera, S. 2018. Evidence of simultaneous occurrence of tylosis formation and fungal interaction in a late Cenozoic angiosperm from the eastern Himalaya. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 259, 171-184. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2018.10.004

168. Su, T., Spicer, R.A., Li, S-H., Xu, H., Huang, J., Sherlock, S., Huang, Y-J., Li, S-F., Wang, L., Jia, L-B., Deng, W-Y-D., Deng, C-L. Zhang, S-T, Valdes, P.J., Zhou, Z-K., 2018.  Uplift, Climate and Biotic Changes at the Eocene-Oligocene Transition in Southeast Tibet, National Science Review. https://academic.oup.com/nsr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nsr/nwy062/5036537

167. Spicer, R.A. Phytopalaeoaltimetry: using plant fossils to measure past land surface elevation. In: Mountains Climate and Biodiversity, Editors Hoorn, C., Perrigo, A.L. and Antonelli, A.. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN: 978-1-119-15987-2.

166. Spicer, R.A., 2017. Tibet, the Himalaya, Asian Monsoons and Biodiversity - In what ways are they related? Plant Diversity. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pld.2017.09.001

165. Kahn, M.A., Bera, M., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Bera, S., 2017. First occurrence of mastixioid (Cornaceae) fossil in India and its biogeographic implications. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. Available Online https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2017.08.006

164. Spicer, R.A., Yang, J., Herman, A., Kodrul, T., Aleksandrova, G., Maslova, N., Spicer, T. E. V., Ding. L., Xu, Q., Shukla, A., Srivastava, G., Mehrotra, R.C., Jin, J.-H., 2017. Paleogene Monsoons across India and South China: Drivers of Biotic Change. Gondwana Research 49: 350–363.

163. Herman, A., Spicer, R.A., Aleksandrova, G.N., Yang, J., Kodrul, T., Maslova, N.P., Spicer, T.E.V., Chen, G., Jin J.-H., 2017. Eocene – Early Oligocene climate and vegetation change in southern China: evidence from the Maoming Basin. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 479: 126–137.

162. Khan, M.A., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Bera, S., 2017. Evidence for diversification of Calophyllum L. (Calophyllaceae) in the Neogene Siwalik forests of eastern Himalaya. Plant Systematics and Evolution https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-016-1376-5.

161. Ding, L., Spicer, R.A., Yang, J., Xu, Q., Cai, F., Li, S., Lai, Q., Wang, H., Spicer, T.E.V., Yue, Y., Shukla, A., Srivastava, G., Khan, M.A., Bera, S., Mehrotra, R.C., 2017. Quantifying the rise of the Himalaya orogen and implications for the South Asian monsoon. Geology 45: 215–218.

160. Spicer, R.A., Yang, J., Herman, A.B., Kodrul, T., Maslova, N., Spicer, T.E.V., Aleksandrova, Jin, J., 2016. Asian Eocene Monsoons as revealed by leaf architectural signatures. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 449: 61-68.

159. Li, S.–F., Jacques, F.M.B., Spicer, R.A., Su, T., Spicer, T.E.V., Yang, J., Zhou, Z. 2016. Artificial neural networks reveal a high-resolution climatic signal in leaf physiognomy. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 442: 1-11.

158. Herman, A.B., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., 2016. Environmental constraints on terrestrial vertebrate behaviour and reproduction in the high Arctic of the Late Cretaceous.  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 441:317–338.

157. Sun, B., Wang, Y.-F.,Li, C.S., Yang, J.,Li, J-F., Li, Y.-L., Deng, T., Wang, S.-Q., Zhao, M., Spicer, R.A., Ferguson, D.K., Mehrotra, R.C. 2015. Early Miocene elevation in northern Tibet estimated by palaeobotanical evidence. Nature Scientific Reports 5:10379 DOI: 10. 1038/srep10379.

156. Li, S.–Y., Mao, L.–M., Spicer, R.A., Lebreton-Anberré, J., Su, T., Sun, M., Zhou, Z.–K. 2015. Late Miocene vegetation dynamics under monsoonal climate in southwestern China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 425:14-40.

155. Yang J., Spicer R.A., Spicer T.E.V., Arens N.C., Jacques F.M.B., Su T., Kennedy E.M., Herman A.B., Steart D.C., Srivastava G., Mehrotra R.C., Valdes P.J., Mehrotra N.C., Zhou Z.K., Lai J.S., 2015. Leaf Form-Climate Relationships on the Global Stage: An Ensemble of Characters. Global Ecology and Biogeography 10:1113- 1125.

154. Spicer, R.A., Herman, A.b., Liao, W., Spicer, T.E.V., Kodrul, T.M., Yang, J., Jin, J. 2014. Cool tropics in the Middle Eocene: Evidence from the Changchang Flora, Hainan Island, China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 412 (2014) 1–16

153. Shukla, A., Mehrotra, R.C., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Kumar, M. 2014. Cool equatorial terrestrial temperatures and the South Asian monsoon in the Early Eocene: Evidence from the Gurha Mine, Rajasthan, India. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 412:187–198.

152. Utescher, T., Bruch, A.A., Erdei, B., François, L., Ivanov, D., Jacques, F.M.B., Kern, A.K., Liu, Y.-S.(C.), Mosbrugger, V., Spicer, R.A. 2014. The Coexistence Approach—Theoretical background and practical considerations of using plant fossils for climate quantification.  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 410:58–73

151. Spicer, R.A., Herman, A.B., Yang, J., Spicer, T.E.V. 2014. Why future climate change is likely to be underestimated: evidence from palaeobotany. J. Bot. Soc. Bengal 67:75–88.

150. Khan, M., Spicer, R.A., Bera, S., Ghosh, R., Yang, J., Spicer, T.E.V., Guo, S., Su, T., Jacques, F., Grote, P.J., 2014. Miocene to Pleistocene floras and climate of the Eastern Himalayan Siwaliks, and New Palaeoelevation estimates for the Namling-Oiyug Basin, Tibet. Global and Planetary Change 113:1–10.

149. Khan, M.A., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Bera, S. 2014. Fossil evidence of insect folivory in the eastern Himalayan Neogene Siwalik forests. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 410:264–277.

148. Spicer, R.A., Collinson, M.E., 2014. Plants and floral change at the K–Pg boundary: three decades on. Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pap. 505:117–132.

147. Jacques, F.M.B., Su, T., Spicer, R.A., Xing, Y.-W., Huang, Y.-J., Zhou, Z. 2014. Late Miocene southwestern Chinese floristic diversity shaped by the southeastern uplift of the Tibetan Plateau. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 411:208–215.

146. Kennedy, E.M., Arens, N.C., Reichgelt, T., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Stranks, L., Yang, J. 2014. Deriving temperature estimates from Southern Hemisphere leaves. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 412:80–90.

145. Khan, M.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Spicer, R.A., Bera, S. 2014. Occurrence of Gynocardia odorata Robert Brown (Achariaceae, formerly Flacourtiaceae) from the Plio-Pleistocene sediments of Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India and its palaeoclimatic and phytogeographic significance. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 211:1-9.

144. Srivastava, G., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Yang, J., Kumar, M., Mehrotra, R., Mehrotra, N. 2012. Megaflora and palaeoclimate of a Late Oligocene tropical delta, Makum Coalfield, Assam: Evidence for the early development of the South Asian Monsoon. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 342-343, 130-142. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.05.002

143. Kumar, M., Srivastava, G., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Mehrotra R.C., Mehrotra N.C. 2012. Sedimentology, palynostratigraphy, and palynofacies of the Late Oligocene Makum Coalfield, Assam, India: a window on lowland tropical vegetation during the most recent episode of significant global warmth. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 342- 343, 143-162. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.05.001

142. Hofmann, C-C., Spicer, R.A., Ahlberg, A., Herman, A.B. 2011. Scanning electron microscopy investigation of monads and tetrads of basal core eudicots from the Upper Cretaceous Vilui Basin, Siberia: Evidence for reticulate evolution. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 167, 196-211. DOI 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2011.08.007

141. Yang, J., Spicer, R.A., Spicer, T.E.V., Li, C-S., 2011. ‘CLAMP Online’: a new web-based palaeoclimate tool and its application to the terrestrial Paleogene and Neogene of North America. Palaeobiodiversity and palaeoenvironments 91, 163-183. DOI 10.1007/s12549-011-0056-2

140. Daly, R.J., Jolley, D.W., Spicer, R.A., and Ahlberg, A., 2011, A palynological study of an extinct Arctic ecosystem from thePaleocene of northern Alaska. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, v. 166, p. 107-116. 

139. Daly, R.J., Jolley, D.W., Spicer, R.A., 2011. The role of angiosperms in Palaeocene arctic ecosystems: A palynological study from the Alaskan North Slope. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 309, 374-382. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.07.007

138. Jacques, F.M.B., Tao, S., Spicer, R.A., Xing, Y., Huang, Y., Wang, W., Zhou, Z., 2011. Leaf physiognomy and climate: are monsoon systems different? Global and Planetary Change 76 (1-2), 56–62. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.11.009

137. Spicer, R.A., Bera, S., De Bera, S., Spicer, T.E.V., Srivastava, S., Mehrotra, R., Mehrotra, N., Yang, J., 2011. Why do foliar physiognomic climate estimates sometimes differ from those observed? Insights from taphonomic information loss and a CLAMP case study from the Ganges Delta. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 302, 381-395. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.01.024

136. Teodorides, V., Mazouch, P., Spicer, R.A., Uhl, D., 2011. Refining CLAMP — Investigations towards improving the Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 299, 39-48. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.10.031.

135. Spicer R.A. and Yang, J., 2010. Quantification of Uncertainties in Fossil Leaf Paleoaltimetry - Does Leaf Size Matter? Tectonics, 29, TC6001, doi:10.1029/2010TC002741.

134. Steart, D.C., Spicer, R.A., Bamford, M.K., 2010. Is southern Africa different? An investigation of the relationship between leaf physiognomy and climate in southern African mesic vegetation. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 162, 607–620. doi:10.1016/j.revpalbo.2010.08.002.

133. Song, X-Y., Spicer R.A., Yang, J., Yao, Y-F and Li, C.S., 2010. Pollen evidence for an Eocene to Miocene elevation of centralsouthern Tibet predating the rise of the High Himalaya. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatolgy, Palaeoecology. 297: 159-168.

132. Spicer, R.A. and Herman, A.B. 2010. The Late Cretaceous Environment of the Arctic: A quantitative reassessment using plant fossils. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatolgy, Palaeoecology. 295: 423-442.

131. Velasco -de Leon, M.P., Spicer, R.A., and Steart, D.C., 2010. Climatic reconstruction of two Pliocene floras from Mexico. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvionments. 90: 99-110.

130. Herman, A.B., and Spicer, R.A., 2010. Mid-Cretaceous floras and climate of the Russian high Arctic (Novosibirsk Islands, Northern Yakutia). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatolgy, Palaeoecology, 295: 409-422.

129. Moiseeva, M.G., Herman, A.B., and Spicer, R.A., 2009. Late Paleocene Flora of the Northern Alaska peninsula: The Role of Transberingian Plant Migrations and Climate Change. Palaeontological Journal, 43: 1298-1308.

128. Spicer, R.A., Valdes, P.J., Spicer, T.E.V., Craggs, H.J., Srivastava, G., Mehrotra, R.C., Yang, J., 2009. New developments in CLAMP: calibration using global gridded meteorological data. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatolgy, Palaeoecology, 283: 91- 98.

127. Spicer, R.A., Daly, R.J., Jolley, D.W., Herman, A,.B., Ahlberg, A., Moiseeva, N., 2009 Climate and Vegetation of the Selandian-Thanetian Paleocene Sagwon Section, Northern Alaska (Palaeolatitude 85°N).In Crouch, E.M., Strong, C.P., Hollis, C.J., (editors) 2009. Climatic and Biotic Events of the Paleogene (CBEP 2009), extended abstracts from an international conference in Wellington, New Zealand, 12-15 January 2009. GNS Science Miscellaneous Series 18, 131- 134.

 

Teaching interests

 

Past Contributions to OU Teaching

Course team member S279.

Course team member SXR260.

Tutor SXR 208 Astronomy (Observing the Universe).

Senior Tutor SXR369 Weeks for students with additional requirements.

Author of S199 (Weather and Climate Modelling).

Course Team Chair Course Team Member and author S369 (The Geological Record of Environmental Change).

Course Team, Tutor and Exam Board Member SXR 369 (The Geological Record of Environmental Change Residential School).

Chair of S269 (Earth and Life) Course Team and Exam Board.

More recently I have been contributing to Masters and PhD programmes at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China and Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Impact and engagement

I have been an academic consultant for numerous television programmes and made several TV and radio appearances. An example is NOVA's 'Arctic Dinosaurs'. 

External collaborations

I am collaborating with Bristol University, UK, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Yunnan, China and The Institute of Tibetan Plateau research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, all being funded as part of the NERC/NSFC Biosphere Evolution, Transitions & Resilience (BETR) Research Programme. Our project is called 'The evolution of vegetation and biodiversity change during the Palaeogene and early Neogene', but is better known under the acronym "UMBRELLA" (Understanding Monsoons and Biodiversity Relevant to Landscapes and Livelihoods in Asia). https://www.umbrella.bridge.bristol.ac.uk

I have numerous international collaborations involving colleagues in Russia, China, New Zealand, and India.

Publications

The early Eocene rise of the Gonjo Basin, SE Tibet: From low desert to high forest (2020-08-01)
Xiong, Zhongyu; Ding, Lin; Spicer, Robert A.; Farnsworth, Alexander; Wang, Xu; Valdes, Paul J.; Su, Tao; Zhang, Qinghai; Zhang, Liyun; Cai, Fulong; Wang, Houqi; Li, Zhenyu; Song, Peiping; Guo, Xudong and Yue, Yahui
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 543, Article 116312


Ancient orogenic and monsoon-driven assembly of the world's richest temperate alpine flora. (2020-07-31)
Ding, Wen-Na; Ree, Richard H.; Spicer, Robert A. and Xing, Yao-Wu
Science, 369(6503) (pp. 578-581)


Cenozoic Topography, Monsoons and Biodiversity Conservation within the Tibetan Region: An Evolving Story (2020-06-11)
Spicer, Robert A.; Farnsworth, Alexander and Su, Tao
Plant Diversity ((Early Access))


Asclepiadospermum gen. nov., the earliest fossil record of Asclepiadoideae (Apocynaceae) from the early Eocene of central Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, and its biogeographic implications (2020-01-21)
Del Rio, Cédric; Wang, Teng-Xiang; Liu, Jia; Liang, Shui-Qing; Spicer, Robert A.; Wu, Fei-Xiang; Zhou, Zhe-Kun and Su, Tao
American Journal of Botany, 107(1) (pp. 126-138)


Consistent Relationship between Field-Measured Stomatal Conductance and Theoretical Maximum Stomatal Conductance in C3 Woody Angiosperms in Four Major Biomes (2020)
Murray, Michelle; Soh, Wuu Kuang; Yiotis, Charilaos; Spicer, Robert A.; Lawson, Tracy and McElwain, Jennifer C.
International Journal of Plant Sciences, 181(1) (pp. 142-154)


Oligocene deformation of the Chuandian terrane in the SE margin of the Tibetan Plateau related to the extrusion of Indochina (2020)
Li, Shihu; Su, Tao; Spicer, Robert A; Xu, Congli; Sherlock, Sarah; Halton, Alison; Hoke, Gregory; Yimin, Tian; Zhang, Shitao; Zhou, Zhekun; Deng, Chenglong and Zhu, Rixiang
Tectonics ((In press))


Why ‘the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau’ is a myth? (2020)
Spicer, Robert A; Su, Tao; Valdes, Paul J; Farnsworth, Alexander; Wu, Fei-Xiang; Shi, Gongle; Spicer, Teresa E V and Zhou, Zhekun
National Science Review, Article nwaa091 ((Early access))


Rising CO2 drives divergence in water use efficiency of evergreen and deciduous plants (2019-12-11)
Soh, Wuu Kuang; Yiotis, Charilaos; Murray, Michelle; Parnell, Andrew; Wright, Ian J.; Spicer, Robert A.; Lawson, Tracy; Caballero, Rodrigo and McElwain, Jennifer C.
Science Advances, 5, Article eaax7906(12)


Understanding the evolution of biodiversity in Asia (2019-12)
Zhou, Z.-K.; Su, T. and Spicer, R. A.
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 271, Article 104107


The composition of the middle Miocene (15 Ma) Namling paleoflora, South Central Tibet, in the context of other Tibetan and Himalayan Floras (2019-12)
Shuang-Xing, Guo; Spicer, Robert A.; Widdowson, Mike; Herman, Alexei B. and Domogatskaya, Ksenia V.
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 271, Article 104088


Extinct genus Lagokarpos reveals a biogeographic connection of Tibet with other regions in the Northern Hemisphere during the Paleogene (2019-11)
Tang, He; Liu, Jia; Wu, Fei‐Xiang; Spicer, Teresa; Spicer, Robert A.; Deng, Wei‐Yu‐Dong; Xu, Cong‐Li; Zhao, Fan; Huang, Jian; Li, Shu‐Feng; Su, Tao and Zhou, Zhe‐Kun
Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 57(6) (pp. 670-677)


Comment on “Revised paleoaltimetry data show low Tibetan Plateau elevation during the Eocene” (2019-09-20)
Valdes, Paul J.; Lin, Ding; Farnsworth, Alex; Spicer, Robert A.; Li, Shi-Hu and Tao, Su
Science, 365, Article eaax8474(6459)


Floral diversity and environment during the middle Siwalik sedimentation (Pliocene) in the Arunachal sub-Himalaya (2019-09)
Khan, Mahasin Ali; Bera, Meghma; Spicer, Robert A.; Spicer, Teresa E. V. and Bera, Subir
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 99(3) (pp. 401-424)


Biotic interchange through lowlands of Tibetan Plateau suture zones during Paleogene (2019-06-15)
Liu, Jia; Su, Tao; Spicer, Robert; Tang, He; Deng, Wei-Yu-Dong; Wu, Fei-Xiang; Srivastava, Gaurav; Spicer, Teresa; Van Do, Truong; Deng, Tao and Zhou, Zhe-Kun
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 524 (pp. 33-40)


Uplift, Climate and Biotic Changes at the Eocene-Oligocene Transition in Southeast Tibet (2019-05-31)
Su, Tao; Spicer, Robert A.; Li, Shi-Hu; Xu, He; Huang, Jian; Sherlock, Sarah; Huang, Yong-Jiang; Li, Shu-Feng; Wang, Li; Jia, Lin-Bo; Deng, Wei-Yu-Dong; Liu, Jia; Deng, Cheng-Long; Zhang, Shi-Tao; Valdes, Paul J. and Zhou, Zhe-Kun
National Science Review, 6(3) (pp. 495-504)


Convergence in Maximum Stomatal Conductance of C3 Woody Angiosperms in Natural Ecosystems Across Bioclimatic Zones (2019-05)
Murray, Michelle; Soh, Wuu Kuang; Yiotis, Charilaos; Batke, Sven; Parnell, Andrew C.; Spicer, Robert A.; Lawson, Tracy; Caballero, Rodrigo; Wright, Ian J.; Purcell, Conor and McElwain, Jennifer C.
Frontiers in Plant Science, 10, Article 558


No high Tibetan Plateau until the Neogene (2019-03-01)
Su, T.; Farnsworth, A.; Spicer, R. A.; Huang, J.; Wu, F-X.; Liu, J.; Li, S-F.; Xing, Y-W.; Huang, Y-J.; Deng, W-Y-D.; Tang, H.; Xu, C-L.; Zhao, F.; Srivastava, G.; Valdes, P. J.; Deng, T. and Zhou, Z-K.
Science Advances, 5, Article eaav2189(3)


Palaeoclimatic estimates for a latest Miocene-Pliocene flora from the Siwalik Group of Bhutan: Evidence for the development of the South Asian Monsoon in the eastern Himalaya (2019-01-15)
Khan, Mahasin Ali; Bera, Meghma; Spicer, Robert A.; Spicer, Teresa E.V. and Bera, Subir
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 514 (pp. 326-335)


New insights into the thermal regime and hydrodynamics of the early Late Cretaceous Arctic (2019)
Spicer, Robert; Valdes, Paul; Hughes, Alice; Yang, Jian; Spicer, Teresa; Herman, Alexei and Farnsworth, Alexander
Geological Magazine ((Early Access))


Evidence of simultaneous occurrence of tylosis formation and fungal interaction in a late Cenozoic angiosperm from the eastern Himalaya (2018-12)
Khan, Mahasin Ali; Bera, Meghma; Spicer, Robert A.; Spicer, Teresa E.V. and Bera, Subir
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 259 (pp. 171-184)


Sun and shade leaf variability in Liquidambar chinensis and Liquidambar formosana (Altingiaceae): implications for palaeobotany (2018-11)
Maslova, Natalia P.; Karasev, Eugeny V.; Kodrul, Tatiana M.; Spicer, Robert A.; Volkova, Lyudmila D.; Spicer, Teresa E. V.; Jin, Jianhua and Liu, Xiaoyan
Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 188(3) (pp. 296-315)


First occurrence of mastixioid (Cornaceae) fossil in India and its biogeographic implications (2017-12)
Khan, Mahasin Ali; Bera, Meghma; Spicer, Robert A.; Spicer, Teresa E.V. and Bera, Subir
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 247 (pp. 83-96)


Tibet, the Himalaya, Asian monsoons and biodiversity - In what ways are they related? (2017-10)
Spicer, Robert
Plant Diversity, 39(5) (pp. 233-244)


Paleogene monsoons across India and South China: Drivers of biotic change (2017-09)
Spicer, Robert; Yang, Jian; Herman, Alexei; Kodrul, Tatiana; Aleksandrova, Galina; Maslova, Natalia; Spicer, Teresa; Ding, Lin; Xu, Qiang; Shukla, Anumeha; Srivastava, Gaurav; Mehrotra, Rakesh; Liu, Xiao-Yan and Jin, Jian-Hua
Gondwana Research, 49 (pp. 350-363)


Eocene–early Oligocene climate and vegetation change in southern China: Evidence from the Maoming Basin (2017-08-01)
Herman, Alexei B.; Spicer, Robert A.; Aleksandrova, Galina N.; Yang, Jian; Kodrul, Tatiana M.; Maslova, Natalia P.; Spicer, Teresa E.V.; Chen, Gang and Jin, Jian-Hua
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 479 (pp. 126-137)


Reconstructing Cenozoic vegetation from proxy data and models – A NECLIME synthesis (Editorial) (2017-02-01)
François, Louis; Bruch, Angela A.; Utescher, Torsten; Spicer, Robert A. and Spicer, Teresa
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 467 (pp. 1-4)


Occurrence of Shorea Roxburgh ex C. F. Gaertner (Dipterocarpaceae) in the Neogene Siwalik forests of eastern Himalaya and its biogeography during the Cenozoic of Southeast Asia (2016-10)
Khan, Mahasin Ali; Spicer, Robert A.; Spicer, Teresa E.V. and Bera, Subir
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 233 (pp. 236-254)


Aporosa Blume from the paleoequatorial rainforest of Bikaner, India: Its evolution and diversification in deep time (2016-09)
Shukla, Anumeha; Mehrotra, Rakesh C.; Spicer, Robert A. and Spicer, Teresa E.V.
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 232 (pp. 14-21)


Palynostratigraphy and palynofacies of the early Eocene Gurha lignite mine, Rajasthan, India (2016)
Kumar, Madhav; Spicer, Robert A.; Spicer, Teresa E. V.; Shukla, Anumeha; Mehrotra, R.C. and Monga, Priyanka
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 461 (pp. 98-108)


Scanning electron microscopy investigation of monads and tetrads of basal core eudicots from the Upper Cretaceous Vilui Basin, Siberia: Evidence for reticulate evolution (2011-10)
Hofmann, Christa-Charlotte; Spicer, Robert A.; Ahlberg, Anders and Herman, Alexei B.
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 167(3-4) (pp. 196-211)


The role of angiosperms in Palaeocene arctic ecosystems: a palynological study from the Alaskan North Slope (2011-09-01)
Daly, R. J.; Jolley, D. W. and Spicer, R. A.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 309(3-4) (pp. 374-382)


Why do foliar physiognomic climate estimates sometimes differ from those observed? Insights from taphonomic information loss and a CLAMP case study from the Ganges Delta (2011-03-15)
Spicer, Robert A.; Bera, Subir; De Bera, Sreelekha; Spicer, Teresa E. V.; Srivastava, Gaurav; Mehrotra, Rakesh; Mehrotra, Naresh and Yang, Jian
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 302(3-4) (pp. 381-395)


Leaf physiognomy and climate: Are monsoon systems different? (2011-03)
Jacques, Frédéric M. B.; Su, Tao; Spicer, Robert A.; Xing, Yaowu; Huang, Yongjiang; Wang, Weiming and Zhou, Zhekun
Global and Planetary Change, 76(1-2) (pp. 56-62)


Refining CLAMP - investigations towards improving the Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program (2011)
Teodorides, Vasilis; Mazouch, Petr; Spicer, Robert A. and Uhl, Dieter
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 299(1-2) (pp. 39-48)


‘CLAMP Online’: a new web-based palaeoclimate tool and its application to the terrestrial Paleogene and Neogene of North America (2011)
Yang, Jian; Spicer, Robert A.; Spicer, Teresa E. V. and Li, Cheng-sen
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 91(3) (pp. 163-183)


Floral diversity during Plio-Pleistocene Siwalik sedimentation (Kimin Formation) in Arunachal Pradesh, India, and its palaeoclimatic significance (2011)
Khan, Mahasin Ali; Ghosh, Ruby; Bera, Subir; Spicer, Robert A. and Spicer, T. E. V.
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 91(4) (pp. 237-255)


Is southern Africa different? An investigation of the relationship between leaf physiognomy and climate in southern African mesic vegetation (2010-11)
Steart, D. C.; Spicer, R. A. and Bamford, M. K.
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 162(4) (pp. 607-620)


Pollen evidence for an Eocene to Miocene elevation of central southern Tibet predating the rise of the High Himalaya (2010-11)
Song, Xiao-Yan; Spicer, Robert; Yang, Jian; Yao, Yi-Feng and Li, Cheng-Sen
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 297(1) (pp. 159-168)


Mid-Cretaceous floras and climate of the Russian high Arctic (Novosibirsk Islands, Northern Yakutiya) (2010-09-15)
Herman, Alexei B. and Spicer, Robert A.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 295(3-4) (pp. 409-422)


The late Cretaceous environment of the Arctic: A quantitative reassessment based on plant fossils (2010-09-15)
Spicer, R. A. and Herman, A. B.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 295(3-4) (pp. 423-442)


Climatic reconstruction of two Pliocene floras from Mexico (2010)
Velasco-de León, Maria Patricia; Spicer, Robert A. and Steart, David C.
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 90(2) (pp. 99-110)


Quantification of uncertainties in fossil leaf aleoaltimetry: does leaf size matter? (2010)
Spicer, Robert A. and Yang, Jian
Tectonics, 29(TC6001) (pp. 1-13)


New developments in CLAMP: Calibration using global gridded meteorological data (2009-12)
Spicer, R. A.; Valdes, P. J.; Spicer, T. E. V.; Craggs, H. J.; Srivastava, G.; Mehrotra, R. C. and Yang, J.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 283(1-2) (pp. 91-98)


Late Paleocene Flora of the Northern Alaska Peninsula: The Role of Transberingian Plant Migrations and Climatic Change (2009)
Moiseeva, M. G.; Herman, A. B. and Spicer, R. A.
Palaeontological Journal, 43(10) (pp. 1298-1308)


The Late Cretaceous continental interior of Siberia: A challenge for climate models (2008-03)
Spicer, Robert A.; Ahlberg, Anders; Herman, Alexei B.; Hofmann, Christa-Charlotte; Raikevich, Michail; Valdes, Paul J. and Markwick, Paul J.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 267(1-2) (pp. 228-235)


Climatic reconstruction at the Miocene Shanwang basin, China, using leaf margin analysis, CLAMP, coexistence approach, and overlapping distribution analysis (2007)
Yang, Jian; Wang, Yu-Fei; Spicer, Robert A.; Mosbrugger, Volker; Li, Cheng-Sen and Sun, Qi-Gao
American Journal of Botany, 94(4) (pp. 599-608)


The sensitivity of CLAMP to taphonomic loss of foliar physiognomic characters (2005-10)
Spicer, Robert A.; Herman, Alexei B. and Kennedy, Elizabeth M.
Palaios, 20(5) (pp. 429-438)


Coastal ecosystem responses to late stage Deccan Trap volcanism: The post K-T boundary (Danian) palynofacies of Mumbai (Bombay), west India (2005-02-01)
Cripps, J. A.; Widdowson, M.; Spicer, R. A. and Jolley, D. W.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 216(3-4) (pp. 303-332)


Uncertainty in predictions of the climate response to rising levels of greenhouse gases (2005-01-27)
Stainforth, D.A.; Aina, T.; Christensen, C.; Collins, M.; Faull, N.; Frame, D.J.; Kettleborough, J.A.; Knight, S.; Martin, A.; Murphy, J.M.; Piani, C.; Sexton, D.; Smith, L.A.; Spicer, R.A.; Thorpe, A.J. and Allen, M.R.
Nature, 433(7024) (pp. 403-406)


Foliar physiognomic record of climatic conditions during dormancy: Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program (CLAMP) and the cold month mean temperature (2004-11)
Spicer, Robert A.; Herman, Alexei B. and Kennedy, Elizabeth M.
Journal of Geology, 112(6) (pp. 685-702)


Maastrichtian-Paleocene floras of northeastern Russia and North Alaska and floral changes at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (2004)
Herman, A.B.; Moiseeva, M.G.; Spicer, R.A. and Ahlberg, A.
Stratigraphy and Geological Correlation, 12(5) (pp. 485-494)


Constant elevation of southern Tibet over the past 15 million years (2003-02-06)
Spicer, Robert A.; Harris, Nigel B.W.; Widdowson, Mike; Herman, Alexei B.; Guo, Shuangxing; Valdes, Paul J.; Wolfe, Jack A. and Kelley, Simon P.
Nature, 421(6923) (pp. 622-624)


Enigmatic late Cretaceous high palaeo-latitude lonestones in Chukotka, northeasternmost Asia (2002-12)
Ahlberg, A.; Herman, A.B.; Raikevich, M.; Rees, P.M. and Spicer, R.A.
GFF, 124(4) (pp. 197-199)


Quantitative palaeoclimate estimates from Late Cretaceous and Paleocene leaf floras in the northwest of the South Island, New Zealand (2002-08-15)
Kennedy, Elizabeth M.; Spicer, Robert A. and Rees, Peter M.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 184(3-4) (pp. 321-345)


Palaeoenvironment and ecology of the middle Cretaceous Grebenka flora of northeastern Asia (2002-08-01)
Spicer, Robert A.; Ahlberg, Anders; Herman, Alexei B.; Kelley, Simon P.; Raikevich, Mikhail I. and Rees, Peter M.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 184(1-2) (pp. 65-105)


Cretaceous flora from the Kukpowruk River, Northwestern Alaska (2002)
Herman, A.B. and Spicer, R.A.
Palaeontological Journal(3) (pp. 94-95)


The Albian-Cenomanian flora of the Kukpowruk River, western North Slope, Alaska: Stratigraphy, palaeofloristics, and plant communities (2001-02)
Spicer, R.A. and Herman, A.B.
Cretaceous Research, 22(1) (pp. 1-40)


Geological Field Techniques (2010)
Coe, Angela; Argles, Thomas; Rothery, David and Spicer, Robert
ISBN : 978-1-4443-3061-8 | Publisher : Wiley Blackwell in association with the OU | Published : Chichester


The Life and career of Jack A. Wolfe (July 10, 1936 - August 12, 2005) (2007)
Upchurch, G. R.; Spicer, R. A. and Leopold, E. B.
In: Jarzen, David M.; Manchester, Steven R.; Retallack, Gregory J. and Jarzen, Susan A. eds. Advances in Angiosperm Paleobotany and Paleoclimatic Reconstruction (pp. 11-19)
ISBN : 978-3-510-61388-5 | Publisher : Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg


Recent and Future Developments of CLAMP: Building on the Legacy of Jack A. Wolfe (2007)
Spicer, R. A.
In: Jarzen, David M.; Manchester, Steven R.; Retallack, Gregory J. and Jarzen, Susan A. eds. Advances in Angiosperm Paleobotany and Paleoclimatic Reconstruction (pp. 109-118)
ISBN : 978-3-510-61388-5 | Publisher : Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg


Cenozoic climate reconstructions associated with the formation of Tibet and the biodiversification of terrestrial ecosystems (2019-09)
Witkowski, C.R.; Lauretano, V.; Mayser, J.P.; Spicer, R.A.; Su, T.; Zhou, Z.-K.; Spicer, T.E.V.; Valdes, P.J.; Farnsworth, A. and Pancost, R.D.
In : 29th International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry (1-6 Sep 2019, Gothenburg, Sweden)


Climate and vegetation of the Selandian-Thanetian Paleocene Sagwon Section, Northern Alaska (Palaeolatitude 85°N) (2009)
Spicer, R. A.; Daly, R. J.; Jolley, D. W.; Herman, A. B.; Ahlberg, A. and Moiseeva, M.
In : Climatic and Biotic Evenets of the Paleogene (12-15 Jan 2009, Wellington, New Zealand)