Professor, Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences
My research group specializes in solving biogeographical problems through the study of fossil pollen, diatoms, charcoal and sediment chemistry. I specialize in reconstructing the ecological history of South America. Much of our work is to assess human impacts on pre-historic landscapes and the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples before European contact. We quantify past climate change, ranging from huge events, such as the temperature changes associated with the coming and going of ice ages, to brief but intense events, such as megadroughts that may have lasted less than a decade. We also use fossil pollen to identify the ecological consequences of changes in land use, for example when crops are first introduced into the landscape, and cultural changes such as switches in food resources. We obtain these data by extracting microfossils from lake sediment cores. Raising those sediment cores often requires backpacking into very remote locations in the Andes, Galapagos Islands, and the Amazon Basin.
I earned my Ph.D. at the University of Hull, UK, in 1986. After spending time at The Ohio State University, The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Duke University, I joined the faculty of Florida Tech, where I am a Professor. I have more than 30 years experience of working on the biogeography and paleoecology of tropical systems and every time I visit I learn something new about these wonderful settings. One of the most exciting things about these trips is to introduce undergraduates and graduate students to tropical biodiversity - for many this is a life-altering experience! By analyzing sediments from ancient lakes we gain insights into the history of landscapes and are able to reconstruct past ecosystems. My research focuses on the effects of past and present climate change on human and natural systems, some of our recent research topics include looking for the cause of the die-off of large mammals at the end of the last ice age, evaluating the ecological impacts of pre-Columbian occupants of Amazonia and the Andes, trying to establish the history of El Niño events, and determining if previous interglacials in the Andes offer lessons for life under ongoing climate change. From these understandings we contribute to developing conservation strategies and in educating local communities about their history. My research group is keen to offer meaningful research opportunities to undergraduates. Undergraduates entering my laboratory are paired with graduate student mentors, and together we have a great track record of mentorship leading to our undergraduate workers presenting poster at scientific meetings and joining us as co-authors as we publish research findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals – both of which are great resume builders. I have published >150 papers on tropical ecology and climate change, and 2 books.
B.Sc. University of Hull, U.K.
M.S. Duke University
Ph.D. University of Hull, U.K.
Bio 4410 Community Ecology
Bio 4030/5030 Conservation Biology
Bio 4413/5413 Applied Geographic Information Systems for Biologists
Summer field programs in the Andes-Amazon, Galapagos Islands
Postdoctoral Fellow, The Ohio State University
1987 - 1991
Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
1991 - 1992
Assistant Professor in the Practice of Botany, Duke University
1992 - 1996
Editorial Board Global Ecology and Biogeography
2000 - 2006
Editor Journal of Biogeography
2004 - present
Editorial Board The Holocene
Editorial Board Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
We use paleoecology to look at all aspects of South and Central American ecology in the Quaternary Period (the last 1.8 million years). Our current projects include investigating the population collapse of the Pleistocene megafauna, and the impacts of megadroughts on the ecology of Amazonia. We are looking at climatic variability during the last interglacial and the last ice age in Central America, the Amazon Basin and the Andes. We are also engaged in investigations of the influence of the El Nino Southern Oscillation on the climate history of the Galapagos Islands and the Andes. We are investigating the role that native South and Central American people played in altering their environment prior to European arrival. Lastly, we are building a bigger and better pollen database to provide a tool to improve identification of Neotropical pollen types.
Nascimento, M.N., Laurenzi, A.G., Valencia, B.G., Bush, M. B. 2018. A 12,700 year history of paleolimnological change from an Andean microrefugium. The Holocene.
Raczka, M.F. Mosblech, N.A., Giosan, L.Folcik, A.M., Valencia, B.G., Kingston, M. Bush, M.B. in review. A human role in Andean megafaunal extinction. Quaternary Science Reviews
Bush, M.B., Gosling, W.D., 2018. In search of the ice age tropics, a tribute to Prof. Daniel Livingstone and Prof. Paul Colinvaux. Quaternary Research 89: 1-6.
Nolan, C., Overpeck, J.T., Allen, J.R., Anderson, P.M., Betancourt, J.L., Binney, H.A., Brewer, S., Bush, M.B., Chase, B.M., Cheddadi, R.J.S., 2018. Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change. Science 361: 920-923.
Raczka, M.F., De Oliveira, P.D., Bush, M.B., 2018. Megafaunal extinction in south-eastern Brazil. Quaternary Research 89: 103-118.
Valencia, B.G., Bush, M.B., Coe, A.L., Orren, E., Gosling, W.D., 2018. Polylepis woodland dynamics during the last 20,000 years. Journal of Biogeography. doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13209
Schiferl, J.D., Bush, M.B., Silman, M.R., 2018. Vegetation responses to late-Holocene climate changes in an Andean forest. Quaternary Research 89: 60-74.
Bush, M. B. (2017) The resilience of Amazonian forests. Nature 541: 167-168.
Bush, M. B., Correa-Metrio, A., Woesik, R., Shadik, C. R. & McMichael, C. N. 2017 Human disturbance amplifies Amazonian El Niño–Southern Oscillation signal. Global Change Biology 23: 3181-3192
Cheddadi, R., Henrot, A.-J., François, L., Boyer, F., Bush, M., Carré, M., Coissac, E., De Oliveira, P.E., Ficetola, F., Hambuckers, A., Huang, K., Lézine, A.-M., Nourelbait, M., Rhoujjati, A., Taberlet, P., Sarmiento, F., Abel-Schaad, D., Alba-Sánchez, F., Zheng, Z., 2017. Microrefugia, Climate Change, and Conservation of Cedrus atlantica in the Rif Mountains, Morocco. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 5: 114.
Holden, P. B., H.J.B. Birks, S.J. Brooks, M.B. Bush, G.M. Hwang, F. Matthews-Bird, B.G. Valencia, & R. van Woesik. 2017. BUMPER v1.0: A Bayesian user-friendly model for palaeo-environmental reconstruction. Geoscientific Model Development 10: 483-498.
Matthews-Bird, F., Valencia, B., Church, W., Peterson, L., Bush, M.B., 2017. A 2000-year history of disturbance and recovery at a sacred site in Peru’s northeastern cloud forest. The Holocene 27, 1707-1719.
McMichael, C.H., Piperno, D.R. & Bush, M.B. 2017. Response to Levis et al.: Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition. Science 358 (6361), eaan8347
Palace, M., McMichael, C., Braswell, B., Hagen, S., Bush, M., Neves, E., Tamanaha, E., Herrick, C., Frolking, S., 2017. Ancient Amazonian populations left lasting impacts on forest structure. Ecosphere 8: doi/full/10.1002/ecs2.2035
Piperno, D. R., McMichael, C.H. & Bush, M.B. 2017. Response to Watling et al.: Impact of pre-Columbian “geoglyph” builders on Amazonian forests. PNAS.
Shadik, C.R., Cardenes-Sandi, G., Correa-Metrio, Y.A., Bush, M.B., 2017. Glacial and interglacials in the Neotropics: a 130,000 – year diatom record from Central Panama. Journal of Paleolimnology 58: 497-510.
Bush, M. B., and C. N. McMichael. 2016. Holocene variability of an Amazonian hyperdominant. Journal of Ecology 104:1370-1378.
Bush, M. B., Y. A. Correa-Metrio, C. H. McMichael, S. Sully, C. R. Shadik, T. Guilderson, M. Steinitz-Kannan, and O. J.T. 2016. A 6900-year history of landscape modification by humans in lowland Amazonia. Quaternary Science Reviews 141:52–64.
Bush, M. B., M. A. Riedinger‐Whitmore, M. Steinitz‐Kannan, M. C. Miller, and P. E. De Oliveira. 2016b. Paul Colinvaux 1930–2016. The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 97:208-212.
Raczka, M. F., M. B. Bush, A. M. Folcik, and C. H. McMichael. 2016. Sporormiella as a tool for detecting the presence of large herbivores in the Neotropics. Biota Neotropica 16.
Rozas-Davila, A., B. G. Valencia, and M. B. Bush. 2016. The functional extinction of Andean megafauna. Ecology 97:2533-2539.
Valencia, B. G., F. Matthews‐Bird, D. H. Urrego, J. J. Williams, W. D. Gosling, and M. Bush. 2016. Andean microrefugia: testing the Holocene to predict the Anthropocene. New Phytologist 212:510-522.
Bush, M. B., C. H. McMichael, D. R. Piperno, M. R. Silman, J. Barlow, C. A. Peres, M. Power, and M. W. Palace. 2015. Anthropogenic influence on Amazonian forests in pre‐history: An ecological perspective. Journal of Biogeography 42:2277-2288.
Bush, M. B., N. A. S. Mosblech, and W. S. Church. 2015. Climate change and the agricultural history of a mid-elevation Andean montane forest. The Holocene 25:1522-1532.
Bush, M. B., A. Alfonso-Reynolds, B. G. Valencia, D. H. Urrego, A. Correa-Metrio, M. Zimmerman, and M. R. Silman. 2015. Fire and climate: Contrasting pressures on tropical Andean timberline species. J. Biogeography 42:938-950.
Conroy, J. L., A. F. Collins, J. T. Overpeck, M. B. Bush, J. E. Cole, and D. J. Anderson. 2015. A 400‐year isotopic record of seabird response to eastern tropical Pacific productivity. Geo: Geography and Environment 2:137-147.
Flantua, S. G., H. Hooghiemstra, E. C. Grimm, H. Behling, M. B. Bush, C. González-Arango, W. D. Gosling, M.-P. Ledru, S. Lozano-García, and A. Maldonado. 2015. Updated site compilation of the Latin American Pollen Database. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 223:104-115.
Kular, D., K. Hollowood, O. Ommojaro, K. Smart, M. Bush, and E. Ribeiro. 2015. Classifying Frog Calls Using Gaussian Mixture Models. Pages 347-354 Advances in Visual Computing. Springer International Publishing.
Matthews‐Bird, F., W. D. Gosling, A. L. Coe, M. Bush, F. E. Mayle, Y. Axford, and S. J. Brooks. 2015. Environmental controls on the distribution and diversity of lentic Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) across an altitudinal gradient in tropical South America. Ecology and Evolution.
McMichael, C., D. Piperno, and M. Bush. 2015a. Comment on Clement et al. 2015 ‘The domestication of Amazonia before European conquest’. Proc. R. Soc. B 282:20151837.
McMichael, C., D. Piperno, E. Neves, M. Bush, F. Almeida, G. Mongeló, and M. B. Eyjolfsdottir. 2015b. Phytolith assemblages along a gradient of ancient human disturbance in western Amazonia. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 3:141.
McMichael, C. H., D. R. Piperno, and M. B. Bush. 2015c. Comment on Clement et al. 2015 “The domestication of Amazonia before European conquest”.
Piperno, D. R., C. McMichael, and M. B. Bush. 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? The Holocene 25:1588-1597.
Bush, M. B., P. E. de Oliveira, M. F. Raczka, W. D. Gosling, F. E. Mayle, C. H. McMichael, and D. H. Urrego. 2014. Paleoclimates of Amazonia: An ice-age view.in F. Ribeiro and I. Carvalho, editors. Paleontologia: Cenários de Vida - Paleoclimas.
Bush, M. B., C. H. McMichael, M. F. Raczka, M. B. De Toledo, M. J. Power, F. E. Mayle, and P. E. De Oliveira. 2014b. The Holocene of the Amazon. Paleoclimas - Série Paleontologia: Cenários de Vida. Interciência, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Bush, M. B., A. Restrepo, and A. F. Collins. 2014. Galápagos History, Restoration, and a Shifted Baseline. Restoration Ecology.
Conroy, J.L., Thompson, D.M., Collins, A., Overpeck, J.T., Cole, J.E., and Bush, M.B. 2014. Climate influences on water and sediment properties of Genovesa Crater Lake, Galápagos Journal of Paleolimnology. doi: 10.1007/s10933-014-9797-z
McMichael, C. H., M. W. Palace, M. B. Bush, B. Braswell, S. Hagen, E. G. Neves, M. R. Silman, E. K. Tamanaha, and C. Czarnecki. 2014. Predicting pre-Columbian anthropogenic soils in Amazonia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281:20132475.
Collins, A. F., M. B. Bush, and J. P. Sachs. 2013. Microrefugia and species persistence in the Galápagos highlands: A 26,000-year paleoecological perspective. Frontiers in Genetics 4.
McMichael, C., M. W. Palace, M. B. Bush, R. Braswell, S. Hagen, E. Neves, M. R. Silman, E. Tamanha, and C. Czarnecki 2014. Predicting pre-Columbian anthropogenic soils in western Amazonia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B; 281 (1777):20132475. doi: 10.1098
Collins, A. F., M. B. Bush, and J. P. Sachs 2013. Microrefugia and species persistence in the Galapagos highlands: A 26,000-year paleoecological perspective. Frontiers in Genetics 4. 10.3389/fgene.2013.00269
Correa-Metrio, A., M. Bush, S. Lozano-García, and S. Sosa-Nájera 2013a. Millennial-Scale Temperature Change Velocity in the Continental Northern Neotropics. PLoS ONE 8:e81958.
Correa-Metrio, A., J. Meave S. Lozano-García, and M. B. Bush 2013b. Environmental determinismand neutrality in vegetation at millennial time scales. Journal of Vegetation Science DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12129.
McMichael, C. H., M. B. Bush, M. R. Silman, D. R. Piperno, M. F. Raczka, L. C. Lobato, M. Zimmerman, S. Hagen, and M. Palace 2013. Historical fire and bamboo dynamics in western Amazonia. Journal of Biogeography 40:299-309.
Raczka, M. F., P. E. De Oliveira, M. Bush, and C. H. Mcmichael 2013. Two paleoecological histories spanning the period of human settlement in southeastern Brazil. Journal of Quaternary Science 28:144-151.
Urrego, D. H., M. B. Bush, M. R. Silman, B. A. Niccum, P. De La Rosa, C. Mcmichael, S. Hagan, and M. Palace 2013. Holocene fires, forest stability and human occupation in south-western Amazonia. Journal of Biogeography 40:521-533.
Correa-Metrio, A., M. B. Bush, D. A. Hodell, M. Brenner, J. Escobar, and T. Guilderson. 2012. The influence of abrupt climate change on the ice-age vegetation of the Central American lowlands. Journal of Biogeography 39:497-509.
McMichael, C., A. Correa-Metrio, and M. B. Bush. 2012a. Pre-Columbian fire regimes in lowland tropical rainforests of southeastern Peru. . Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 342-343:72-83.
McMichael, C. H., D. R. Piperno, M. B. Bush, M. R. Silman, A. R. Zimmerman, M. F. Raczka, and L. C. Lobato. 2012c. Sparse Pre-Columbian Human Habitation in Western Amazonia. Science 336:1429-1431.
McMichael. C., Bush, M.B., Piperno, D.R., Silman, M., Zimmerman, A., Anderson, C* 2012. Scales of pre-Columbian disturbance around western Amazonian lakes. The Holocene 22: 131-141.
Mosblech, N. A., A. Chepstow-Lusty, B. G. Valencia, and M. B. Bush. 2012. Anthropogenic control of late-Holocene landscapes in the Cuzco region, Peru. The Holocene.
Mosblech, N. A. S., M. B. Bush, W. D. Gosling, L. Thomas, P. van Calsteren, A. Correa-Metrio, B. G. Valencia, J. Curtis, and R. van Woesik. In Press. Synchrony of abrupt climate events over 89,000 years: a view from Amazonia. Nature Geoscience.
Restrepo, A., P. A. Colinvaux, M. B. Bush, A. Correa-Metrio, J. Conroy, M. R. Gardener, P. Jaramillo, M. Steinitz-Kannan, and J. T. Overpeck. 2012. Impacts of climate variability and human colonization on the vegetation of the Galápagos Islands. Ecology 93:1853-1866.
Raper, D. and M.B. Bush, in press A test of Sporormiella representation as a predictor of megaherbivore presence and abundance. Quaternary Research.
Conroy, J.L., Restrepo, A., Overpeck, J.T., Steinitz-Kannan, M., Cole, J.E., Bush, M.B. and P.A. Colinvaux, 2009. Unprecedented recent warming in the eastern tropical Pacific. Nature Geosciences.
Hillyer, R., Valencia, B. G. , Bush, M.B., Silman, M.R. and M. Steinitz-Kannan. 2009. A 24,700-year paleolimnological history from the Peruvian Andes. Quaternary Research 71: 71-82.
Bush, M. B., Silman, M.R., McMichael, C. and S. Saatchi. 2008. Fire, climate change and biodiversity in Amazonia: a Late-Holocene perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363:1795-1802.
Gosling, W.D., Bush, M.B. , Hanselman, J.A. and A.J. Chepstow-Lusty. 2008. Glacial-Interglacial changes in moisture balance and the impact on vegetation in the southern hemisphere tropical Andes (Bolivia/Peru). Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 259:35-50.
Bush, M.B. and Silman, M.R. In press. Amazonian exploitation revisited: Ecological asymmetry and the policy pendulum. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Bush, M.B. and Flenley, J.R. 2007. Tropical Rainforest Responses to Climate Change. Praxis, Chichester.
Bush, M.B. and Lovejoy, T.E. 2007. Amazonian conservation: pushing the limits of biogeographical knowledge. Journal of Biogeography 34: 1291-1293.
Bush, M.B., Silman, M.R., de Toledo, M.B., Listopad, C.R.S., Gosling, W.D., Williams, C., de Oliveira, P.E. and Krisel, C. 2007. Holocene fire and occupation in Amazonia: Records from two lake districts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Ser. B.
Bush, M.B. and Weng. C. 2007. Introducing a new (freeware) tool for palynology. Journal of Biogeography 34: 377-380.
Hanselman, J.A., Gosling, W.D., Paduano, G.M. and Bush, M.B. 2005. Contrasting pollen histories of MIS 5e and the Holocene from Lake Titicaca (Bolivia/Peru). Journal of Quaternary Science 20, 663-670.
Bush, M.B., Silman, M.R. and Urrego, D.H. 2004. 48,000 years of climate and forest change in a biodiversity hotspot. Science 303: 827-829.