Rahab Kinyanjui is a paleobotanist & paleoecologist interested in understanding past vegetation change and ecosystems dynamics driven by both biotic and abiotic factors in eastern Africa. She analyzes and studies both plant macro- and micro-fossils (leaves, wood, seeds, pollen, phytoliths, spores, and charcoal). Her major focus is to study and understand vegetation change, especially grasslands, in response to major past environmental and climatic events. Data collected help explain major evolutionary events especially for mammals, including humans.
Timescales: Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, Holocene, Anthropocene
Archives: Paleontological & archeological sites, paleolake basins, Swamps/bogs, caves
The following are my major research questions: -
1) When is the onset of grasslands ecosystems expansion in eastern Africa region?
2) How did vegetation composition and structure vary across space and through time?
3) What was the main driving factor (s) (climate, tectonic processes, anthropogenic) of these changes at any given time and space?
4) Did these paleoenvironmental changes uniform across the region or were they localized in specific basins/blocks?
5) Pastoralism is one of the oldest subsistence strategies in East Africa, it is mainly practiced in semi-arid and arid regions. What is its impact of vegetation cover?
Kinyanjui, Rahab N., Meadows, Michael, Gillson, Lindsey, Bamford, Marion K., Behrensmeyer, Anna K., Potts, Richard. 2021. Reconstructing vegetation history of the Olorgesailie Basin during the Middle to Late Pleistocene using phytolith data. In: Runge, Jürgen, Gosling, William D., Lézine, Anne-Marie, Scott, Louis., Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics – The African Pollen Database. London: CRC Press pp. 85-105.
Marta, S.; Azzoni, R.S.; Fugazza, D.; Tielidze, L.; Chand, P.; Sieron, K.; Almond, P.; Ambrosini, R.; Anthelme, F.; Alviz Gazitúa, P.; et al. 2021. The Retreat of Mountain Glaciers since the Little Ice Age: A Spatially Explicit Database. Data, 6, 107. https://doi.org/10.3390/data6100107
Ochungo, P., Veldtman, R., Kinyanjui, R., Abdel-Rahaman, E.M., Muli, E., Muturi, M.N.K., Lattorff, H.M.G., Landmann, T.L., 2021. Pollen diversity and protein content in differentially degraded semi-arid landscapes in Kenya. Journal of Apicultural Research Vol. 60:5. https://doi.org/10.1080/00218839.2021.1899656
Lupien, R.L., Russell, J.M., Subramanian, A., Kinyanjui, R., Beverly, E.J., Uno, K., de Menocal, P., Dommain, R., 2021. Eastern African environmental variation and its role in the evolution and cultural change of Homo over the last 1 million years. Journal of Human Evolution 157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2021.103028
Mustaphi, C.J.C., Kinyanjui, R., Shoemaker, A., Mumbi, C., Muiruri, V., Marchant, L., Rucina, S.M. and Marchant, R. 2021. A 3000-year record of vegetation changes and fire at a high-elevation wetland on Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Quaternary Research, 99, 34–62. https://doi.org/10.1017/qua.2020.76
Potts, R., Dommain, R., Moerman, J.W., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Deino, A.L., Riedl, S., Beverly, E.J., Brown, E.T., Deocampo, D., Kinyanjui, R. and Lupien, R. 2020. Increased ecological resource variability during a critical transition in hominin evolution. Science advances, 6(43), eabc8975. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abc8975
Potts, R., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Faith, J.T., Tyron, C.A., Brooks, A.S., Yellen, J.E., Deino, A.L., Kinyanjui, R., Clark, J.B., and Haradon, C.M., 2018, Environmental dynamics during the onset of tthe Middle Stone Age in eastern Africa: Science, v.360, p. 86-90. 10.1126/science.aao2200
Kinyanjui, R. N. 2018. Phytolith Analysed to Compare Changes in Vegetation Structure of Koobi Fora and Olorgesailie Basins through Mid-Pleistocene-Holocene periods, thesis (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. 2018). https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/188776043.pdf
Marchant, R., Richer, S., Capitani, C., Courtney Mustaphi, C.J., Prendergast, M., Stump, D., Boles, O., et al., 2018. Drivers and trajectories of land cover change in East Africa: human and environmental interactions from 6000 years ago to present. Earth-Science Reviews178, 322–378. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/344898215.pdf
Kinyanjui, R.N. 2013. Phytolith Analysis as a Palaeoecological Tool for Reconstructing Mid-to Late-Pleistocene Environments in the Olorgesailie Basin, Kenya. (University of Cape Town, South Africa, Unpublished MSc thesis). http://www.cilt.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/192/Kinyanjui 2011.pdf
Mercader, J., Astudillo, F., Barkworth, M., Bennett, T., Esselmont, C., Kinyanjui, R., Grossman, D.L., Simpson, S. and Walde, D. 2010. Poaceae phytoliths from the Niassa Rift, Mozambique. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(8), 1953–1967. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.03.001
Marchant, R., Finch, J., Kinyanjui, R., Muiruri, V., Mumbi, C., Platts, P. J., and Rucina, S. 2010. Paleoenvironmental Perspectives for sustainable development in East Africa. Clim. Past Discuss., 6, 1-45.
Rucina, S.M, Muiruri, V.M, Kinyanjui, R.N., Mc Guiness, K. and Marchant, R.A 2009. Late Quaternary Vegetation and Fire Dynamics on Mount Kenya. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoeceology. 283, 1-14.