Dr. Vincent Robin, Alumni


Dr. Vincent Robin (France, 1982)

M.A. in Biodiversity & Continental Ecology

PhD project
Reconstruction of Fire and Forest History on Several Investigation Sites in Germany Based on Long and Short-term Investigations - Multiproxy Approaches Contributing to Naturalness Assessment on a Local Scale
Considering two global observations in Central Europe of, firstly, the need for and the development of sustainable and biological conservation practices for forest and/or woodland areas and, secondly, the lack of long-term fire history, an attempt has been made to reconstruct the fire and the forest history at several investigation sites in Germany. The overall data set gathered and analyzed has been used for on-site naturalness assessment. This latter notion is crucial for forest system conservation/restoration planning, considering the past human impact on forest dynamics. Also, in view of this past human impact on forest systems, which is well-documented for Central Europe as occurring on a multi-millennium scale, an historical perspective that combined a long and short temporal scale of investigation was used.

Nine investigation sites were selected in order to include various and representative types of Central European forests. Therefore, the investigation sites were located in two main investigation areas, including Northern Germany (Schleswig-Holstein) with four investigation sites and Central Germany (Harz Mountains) with five investigation sites. Four main approaches were used. To assess the current state of the investigated site, forest stand characterization was undertaken (i.e. based on various forest attributes that concern stand structure and composition). Tree ring series were analyzed to provide insights about short-term forest tree population dynamics. Subsequently, charcoal records from soil (combined with soil analysis) and peat sequences were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed. These last two approaches also provide information about past fire history.

Forest current and short-term dynamics illustrated various levels of stand complexity, often corresponding to various levels of human impact that had been postulated. Eight mean site tree-ring chronologies, standardized in high and mid-frequency signal and spanning at a maximum of up to AD 1744 and at a minimum of up to AD 1923, were obtained. Insights about the identification of events of growing changes and the correlated temporal and, if possible, spatial patterns, were discussed. Charcoal analysis provided long-term insights about fire history. Based on 71 charcoal radiocarbon dates, it was shown on a macro-scale that there were two phases that had a greater frequency of fire - one during the transition from the Late Pleistocene to the Early Holocene, and one during the Mid- and Late Holocene. A period of strong human control during the most recent fire phase has been postulated. This is supported by on-site soil and peat charcoal record analysis, allowing observation of environmental changes (disturbances) at local scales. Finally, on-site data from the various indicators were combined to assess fire and forest history and the naturalness level of the investigated sites based on past insights, thereby contributing to a better understanding of present-day conditions and helping to anticipate the future.
Post-doc project Holocene fire history in Northern Germany inferred from peat and sediment charcoal records with various spatial resolutions in selected areas of Schleswig-Holstein.
Research interests Forest ecology, ecosystem disturbances, nature conservation/restoration, wood anatomy, taphonomy, soil science and geomorphology, charcoal analysis, dendroecology, botany, landscapes ecology, archaeological sciences.
Post PhD Position Post doctoral fellow in the research project Holocene fire history in Northern Germany inferred from peat and sediment charcoal records with various spatial resolutions in selected areas of Schleswig-Holstein at the Institute for Ecosystem Research, CAU Kiel.

Member of the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” at Kiel University (binational PhD with Paul Cézanne University Aix-Marseilles III)

Master in Biodiversity and Continental Ecology, Aix-Marseille University (France).

Certificate biology of populations and ecosystems, Aix-Marseille University (France).

Scientific and Technical certificate in management of ecological systems, Aix-Marseille University (France).

Technical certificate of forest management, forestry school of Montélimar (France).

Work experience

Temporary contract for field work in the research working group Multifunctional Forest Management of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WS -Birmensdorf-

Analysis and preparation of charcoal samples for radiocarbon dating, within the framework of archaeological studies of the Mediterranean House of the Human Sciences (

Partial work in wood anatomy on charcoal pieces (Bachelor level): Anatomical distinction criteria of Fagaceae, biometric study. Institute Mediterranean of Ecology and Palaeoecology, Aix-Marseille University.

Study of the impact of the wildlife on the forest regeneration of the “Gap-Chaudun” Forest (South French Alps). French National Office of Forest (

Selected publications

In press
Vincent Robin, Brigitte Talon & Oliver Nelle: Pedoanthracological contribution to forest naturalness assessment. Quaternary International, in press

Vincent Robin, Björn-Henning Rickert, Marie-Josée Nadeau and Oliver Nelle. Assessing Holocene vegetation and fire history by a multiproxy approach: the case of Stodthagen Forest (Northern Germany). The Holocene 22, 337-346.

Oliver Nelle, Vincent Robin. Holzkohlanalyse - verkohltes Holz speichert Informationen zur Nutzung einer elementaren Ressource. Archäologie in Sachsen-Anhalt 14, Fachfeature, 47-48.

Vincent Robin, Philippe Touflan, Loic Botta, and Brigitte Talon. Histoire de la dynamique végétale passée des forêts anciennes du Queyras, Annales scientifiques du massif du Mont Viso, n°4.

  • Member of the International Association of Wood Anatomists (IAWA)
  • Member of the French Quaternary Association (AFEQ)
  • Member of the Organization committee of International workshop of the Graduate School „Human Development in Landscapes? of the University of Kiel, Germany: Socio-environmental dynamics over the last 12,000 years: the creation of landscapes, April 2008, Kiel, Germany
  • Member of the Organization committee of the First International Workshop of Pedoanthracology – Pedoanthracology and Environmental Studies, June 2010, Aix-en-Provence, France