Dr Juan Carlos Berrio

Lecturer in Physical GeographyDr Juan Carlos Berrio

Contact details

Personal details

I conduct research in several Latin-American countries (Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela), in different ecosystems including the tropical rain forest (TRF) of the Amazon Basin and Chocó province, the inter-montane dry biomes, savanna ecosystem and its boundaries with TRF. I am a member of the Leicester Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Research group. I am also a member of the Palaeoclimate Commission (PALCOM) of INQUA.


My research interest focuses in to understand patterns of distribution and dynamics of tropical vegetation, the biogeographical control of different plant species and their relationships with main drivers of climate change. In order to investigate climate variability and environmental change, I do apply different proxies to study both long-and-short term sedimentary records from different tropical biomes. Most of the time is dedicated to trace such climate variations and vegetation changes at millennial and decadal to orbital time scales.

External activities

Director of the Leicester's Palaeoecology Laboratory:

If you are interested in research collaborations, feel free to contact me by email or telephone.

Impact, enterprise and outreach

  • Member of the Quaternary Science Association (QRA).
  • Member of the International Organisation of Palaeobotany (IOP).
  • Member of the INQUA Palaeoclimate Commission (PALCOM).
  • Expert reviewer for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships (MSCA-IF) “Horizon 2020” EU Research and Innovation program.

Recent Publications

Robinson, M., Morcote-Rios, G., Aceituno, F.J., Roberts, P., Berrío, J.C, Iriarte, J., (2021). ‘Moving South’: Late Pleistocene plant exploitation and the importance of palm in the Colombian Amazon. Quaternary, 4(3), p.26. https://doi.org/10.3390/quat4030026

Velez, M.I., Mackenzie, M., Boom, A., Bremond, L., Gonzalez, N., Carr, A., Berrio, J.C. (2021). Lacustrine responses to middle and late Holocene anthropogenic activities in the northern tropical Andes. Journal of Palaeoelimnology 65,123-136.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10933-020-00152-y

Adolf, C., Tovar, C., Kühn, N., Behling, H., Berrío, J.C., Dominguez-Vázquez, G., Figueroa-Rangel, B., Gonzalez-Carranza, Z., Islebe, G.A., Hooghiemstra, H., Neff, H. (2020). Identifying drivers of forest resilience in long-term records from the Neotropics. Biology Letters, 16(4), p.20200005. doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2020.0005

Onyia, N.N., Balzter, H., Berrío, J.C., 2020. Evaluating the performance of vegetation indices for detecting oil pollution effects on vegetation using hyperspectral (Hyperion EO-1) and multispectral (Sentinel-2A) data in the Niger Delta. In Hyperspectral Remote Sensing (pp. 377-399). Elsevier.

Onyia, N.N., Balzter, H., Berrio, J.C. (2019). Spectral Diversity Metrics for Detecting Oil Pollution Effect on Biodiversity in the Niger Delta. Remote Sensing 11, 2662; doi:10.3390/rs11222662

Cardale de Schrimpff, M., Berrio, J.C., Groot, A.M., Botero, P., Duncan, N. (2019). Culture and the environment on the floodplain of the river Cauca in southwestern Colombia: Reconstructing the evidence from the Late Pleistocene to the Late Holocene. Quaternary International. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2018.12.022

Onyia, N.N., Balzter, H., Berrio, J.C. (2018). Normalized Difference Vegetation Vigour Index: A New Remote Sensing Approach to Biodiversity Monitoring in Oil Polluted Regions. Remote Sensing 10, 897. doi.org/10.3390/rs10060897

Teh, Y.A., Murphy, W., Berrio, J.C., Page, S., Boom, A. (2017). Spatial and temporal variability in methane and nitrous oxide fluxes from Amazonian tropical peatlands. Journal of Biosciences 14, 3669–3683. 10.5194/bg-14-3669-2017

Balslev, H., Copete, J.C., Pedersen, D., Bernal, R., Galeano, G., Duque, A., Berrio, J.C, Sanchez, M. (2017) Palm Diversity and Abundance in the Colombian Amazon. Forest structure, function and dynamics in Western Amazonia pp. 101-123 10.1002/9781119090670.ch5 ISBN13: 9781119090670

Lea, l.A., Bilbao, B., Berrio, J.C., Behling, H.,  Montoya, V.J., Mendez, C. (2016) Late-Holocene gallery forest retrogression in the Venezuelan Guayana: New data and implications for the conservation of a cultural landscape. HOLOCENE, 26 (7), pp. 1049-1063 10.1177/0959683616632892

Berrio, J.C., Cleef, A.M. (2016) Vegetation History during the Quaternary in Colombia. In: Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R., Celis, M. (Eds.) Catalogo de plantas y li­quenes de Colombia 1, pp. 55-69 ISBN13: 978-958-775-727-9

Carr, A.S., Armitage, S.J., Berrio, J.C., Bilbao, B.A., Boom, A. (2016) An optical luminescence chronology for late Pleistocene aeolian activity in the Colombian and Venezuelan Llanos. QUATERNARY RESEARCH, 85 (2), pp. 299-312 10.1016/j.yqres.2015.12.009http://hdl.handle.net/2381/36695

Bogota-A, R.G., Hooghiemstra, H., Berrio, J.C. (2016) North Andean environmental and climatic change at orbital to submillennial time-scales: Vegetation, water-levels and sedimentary regimes from Lake Fuquene between 284 and 130 ka. REVIEW OF PALAEOBOTANY AND PALYNOLOGY, 226, pp. 91-107 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2015.09.007


Dr JC Berrio. Amazonian Peatlands: A potentially important but poorly characterised source ofFrom: 1/9/2011 - To: 31/8/2013, funded by NERC (NAT. ENVIRONMENT RES COUN) (NE/I015469/1), Sum Awarded: £17698


Research areas for PhD supervision

Palaeoenvironmental Reconstructions, Climate Change, Palynology, Palaeoecology, Quaternary Environmental Change, South America, Amazon Rainforests, Above Ground Biomass, Carbon fluxes, Green House Gasses, Biodiversity, Biogeography

I am interested in supervising students on the following topics:

  • Palaeoecology and Environmental change
  • Quaternary Research
  • Vegetation analysis and Biogeography
  • Forest structure and biodiversity
  • Phenology and pollination
  • Distribution of plant species

Enquiries: If you are interested in studying for a PhD in one of these research areas, please make informal enquiries via pgrgeog@le.ac.uk

Find out more information about Geography PhDs including more research areas, how to apply, funding and entry requirements.



StudentThesis Title
Hannah Sellers Building Resilient Ecologies in a post-COVID 19 Anthropocene Landscape. CENTA-NERC.  Started Sept. 2021. Co-supervisor
Maria Mills Carbon fluxes along environmental and altitudinal gradients in the Colombian Andes. CENTA-NERC, Started Sept 2019. First supervisor.
Rachael Holmes Tracing the Geological Signature of Human-Induced Transformation of the Biosphere in Indonesia. CENTA-NERC. Started Sept 2019. Co-supervisor.
Milly Curral A 200kyr Fire History from the Neotropical Andes. Started Sept. 2019. Co-supervisor.


StudentThesis TitleOther Supervisor(s)
Wayne Murphy Response of the Amazon swamp palm forests to human and environmental impacts

Prof. Sue Page, Dr. A. Boom

Nkeiruka Nneti Application of Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) in the Assessment of Oil Pollution Impact on Biodiversity in Ogoniland, Nigeria Prof. Heiko Balzter
Sarah Owen Geological origins of sugarloaf peaks in eastern Brazil and their environmental significance as refugia for Mata Atlantica preservation Dr. Kevin Tansey
Raul Giovanni Bogota-Angel Pleistocene centennial-scale vegetational, environmental, and climatic change in the Colombian andes: based on biotic and abiotic proxy analyses from Lake Fuquene sediments Prof. H. Hooghiemstra
Mirella H.M. Groot Reconstruction of millennial-scale environmental and climatic change in the northern Andes during the last glacial cycle: An integration of biotic and abiotic proxy-information Prof. H. Hooghiemstra, University of Amsterdam
Milton Romero-Ruiz Analysis and monitoring of fire dynamics in the Colombian eastern plains using remote sensing Dr Kevin Tansey
Carlos Avdendano Natural and cultural landscape evolution during the Late Holocene in North Central Guatemalan Lowlands and Highlands Prof. S. Cowling; Dr. S. Finkelstein at University of Toronto
Alejandra Leal

Holocene vegetation and fire history of the forest/savanna ecotone in the Venezuelan Gran Sabana.

Dr. Bibiana Bilbao

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Fúquene Pollen Data

Pollen data from previous Research Projects 'Extreme-resolution Eemian climate variability of the tropics (Colombia); a search for driving forces and mechanisms at work' and 'Holocene and last glacial decadal-to-centennial climate variability from near-equator lake sediments: a multi-proxy and inter-site comparison approach'

Colleagues are welcome to make use of the data set. We would appreciate very much being informed in the stage of data analysis and manuscript writing as our Fúquene-team is still involved in preparing papers on the basis of this data set. However, we think this should not be longer an argument to continue the status of the data as 'not public domain'. Comparison with previous publications of this data set is only valid if the same basis of percentage calculations (pollen sum) is applied. When data are applied in model studies we strongly advise to take contact with J.C. Berrio [jcb34@leicester.ac.uk] and H. Hooghiemstra [H.Hooghiemstra@uva.nl] in order to prevent pollen taxa are being erroneously used as indicators of specific environmental conditions. We are happy to support you in a correct data treatment. JCB & HH (May 2020)