Zhen Li

Postdoctoral Fellow


(778) 678-5268

My research is driven by my curiosity and interests in a series of scientific questions. How sedimentary environments and oceanographic conditions changed in coasts and oceans response to climate change in the past? How much difference the changes between coasts and oceans? What are the influence factors on the changes and differences? How the climatic and sea-level changes as well as human activity affect coastal environments and ecosystems, especially marine primary productivity (PP)? Seeking answers to these questions inspires me to work on reconstructions of paleoceanographic conditions on various time and spatial scales using multiple proxies. I mostly use palynological analysis (microfossils of dinoflagellate cysts, pollen and spores, charcoal, foraminiferal organic linings, etc.), sediment facies analysis (grain-size, structure, color, fossil contents, sedimentary sequences, etc.) and geochemical proxies (Si, TOC, Ba, Fe, Cr etc.) to reconstruct past climate (e.g. temperature and precipitation), oceanographic conditions (e.g., SST, SSS, marine PP, eutrophication level and oxygenation), sea-level change, and human activities. Dinoflagellate cysts are used for the reconstruction of specific oceanographic patterns. Pollen and spores in marine environment could reflect regional vegetation, climate, or coastal vegetation and coastline migration. Geophysical survey, sediment facies and geochemical analyses help for understanding regional background of sedimentary environments. With these interests and methods, my research focuses on and contributes to the following aspects in the Pacific Ocean with large human population living in coastal areas and serious coastal risks from sea-level rise, climate warming, and eutrophication.

  • Sedimentary environmental and Oceanographic reconstructions in the North Pacific; 
  • Monsoon climatic and oceanographic changes in the western Pacific region during the Holocene;
  • Mangrove succession and mega-delta initiation in response to the relative sea-level change and monsoon climatic variation; 
  • Human activities in response to modern mega-delta initiation and coastal development. 

Paleobiology, Palynology, Marine sedimentology, Introductory Geology, Palaeoclimatology, Environmental Archaeology, and a seminar lecture of Global Climate Change and Challenges to Coastal Regions.

B.Eng. Chang'an University (Xi'an Geology College), China (1994)
M.Sc. Tongji Univeristy, China (1997)
Ph.D. University of Victoria (2018)

Posdoctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia (2019-2020)


Selected Publications

Nageswara Rao, K., Saito, Y., Naga Kumar, K.Ch.V., Kubo, S., Pandey, S., Li, Z., Demudu, G., Rajawat, A.S., 2020. Holocene evolution and Anthropocene destruction of the Krishna Delta on the east coast of India: Delta lobe shifts, human impacts, and sea-level history. Marine Geology (online). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2020.106229.

Li, Z., Pospelova, V., Kawamura, H., Luo, C., Mertens, N.K., Hernandez-Almeida, I., Yin, K., Wu, Y., Wu, H., Xiang, R., 2019. Dinoflagellate cyst distribution in surface sediments from the South China Sea in relation to hydrographic conditions and primary productivity. Marine Micropaleontology (on line). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marmicro.2019.101815.

Mertens, K.N., Gu, H., Gurdebeke, P.R., Takano, Y., Clarke, D., Aydin, H., Li, Z., Pospelova, V., Matsuoka, K., Head, M.J., 2019. A review of rare or not well-known extant marine organic-walled dinoflagellate cyst taxa of the orders Gymnodiniales and Peridiniales from the Northern Hemisphere. Marine Micropaleontology (online). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marmicro.2019.101 773.

Gurdebeke, P.R., Mertens, K.N., Pospelova, V., Matsuoka, K., Li, Z., Gribble, K.E., Gu, H., Bogus, K., Vrielinck, H., Louwye, S., 2019. Taxonomic revision, phylogeny, and cyst wall composition of the dinoflagellate cyst genus Votadinium Reid (Dinophyceae, Peridiniales, Protoperidiniaceae) Palynology (online). https://doi.org/10.1080/01916122.2019.1580627.

Li, Z., Pospelova, V., Lin, H.-L., Liu, L., Song, B., 2018. Seasonal dinoflagellate cyst production and terrestrial palynomorth deposition in the monsoon influenced South China Sea: A sediment trap study from the Southwest Taiwan waters. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 257, 117–139. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2018.07.007

Song, B., Yi, S., Jia, H., Nahm, W.H., Kim, J.C., Lim, J., Lee, J.Y., Sha, L., Mao, L., Yang, Z., Nakanishi, T., Hong, W., Li, Z., 2018. Pollen record of the mid- to late-Holocene centennial climate change on the east coast of South Korea and its influential factors. Journal of Asian Earth Science 115, 240–249. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jseaes.2017.11.006

Li, Z., Pospelova, V., Liu, L., Zhou, R., Song, B., 2017. High-resolution palynological record of Holocene climatic and oceanographic changes in the northern South China Sea. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 483, 94–124. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2017.03.009

Meng, X., Xia, P., Li, Z., Meng, D., 2017. Mangrove development and its response to Asian Monsoon in the Yingluo Bay (SW China) over the last 2000 years. Estuaries and Coasts 40, 540–552. https://link.springer.com/10.1007/s12237-016-0156-3

Song, B., Li, Z., Lu, H., Mao, L., Saito, Y., Yi, S., Lim, J., Li, Z., Lu, A., Sha, L., Zhou, R., Zuo, X., and Pospelova, V., 2017. Pollen record of the centennial climate changes during 9–7 cal ka BP in the Changjiang (Yangtze) River Delta plain, China. Quaternary Research 87, 275–287. https://doi.org/10.1017/qua.2017.1

Zuo, X., Lu, H., Li, Z., Song, B., Xu, D., Zou, Y., Wang, C., Huan, X., He, K., 2016. Phytolith and diatom evidence for rice exploitation and environmental changes during the early mid-Holocene in the Yangtze Delta. Quaternary Research 86, 304–315. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yqres.2016.08.001

Meng, X., Xia, P., Li, Z., Meng, D., 2016. Mangrove degradation and response to anthropogenic disturbance in Maowei Sea (SW China) since 1926 AD: Mangrove-derived OM and pollen. Organic Geochemistry 98, 166–175. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2016.06.001

Nguyen, T.T.H., Zhang, W., Li, Z., Li, J., Ge, C., Liu, J., Bai, X., Feng, H., Yu, L., 2016. Assessment of heavy metal pollution in Red River surface sediments, Vietnam. Marine Pollution Bulletin 113, 513–519. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.08.030

Nguyen, T.T.H., Zhang, W., Li, Z., Li, J., Ge, C., Liu, J., Bai, X., Feng, H., Yu, L., 2016. Magnetic properties of sediments of the Red River: Effect of sorting on the source-to-sink pathway and its implications for environmental reconstruction. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 17, 270–281. https://doi.org/10.1002/2015GC006089

Nageswara Rao, K., Saito, Y., NagaKumar, K.Ch.V., Demudu, G.,  Rajawat, A.S., Kubo, S., Li, Z., 2015. Palaeogeography and evolution of the Godavari delta, east coast of India during the Holocene: An example of wave-dominated and fan-delta settings. Palaeogeography‚ Palaeoclimatology‚ Palaeoecology 440, 213–233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.09.006

Xia, P., Meng, X., Li, Z., Feng, A., Yin, P., Zhang, Y., 2015. Mangrove development and its response to environmental change in Yingluo Bay (SW China) during the last 150 years: Stable carbon isotopes and mangrove pollen. Organic Geochemistry 85, 32–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2015.04.003

Song, B., Li, Z., Saito, Y., Okuno, J., Li, Z., Lu, A., Hua, D., Li, J., Li, Y., Nakashima, R., 2013. Initiation of the Changjiang (Yangtze) delta and its response to the mid-Holocene sea level change. Palaeogeography‚ Palaeoclimatology‚ Palaeoecology 388, 81–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2013.07.026

Li, Z., Saito, Y., Li, Z., Tamura, T., Song, B., Lu,  A., Sieng, S., Li, J., Zhang, Y., 2012. Mid-Holocene mangrove succession and its response to sea level change in the upper Mekong delta, Cambodia. Quaternary Research 78, 386–399. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yqres.2012.07.001

Mao, L., Batten, D.J., Fujiki, T., Li, Z., Dai, L., Weng, C., 2012. Key to the mangrove pollen and spores of the southern China: an aid to palynological interpretation on Quaternary marine deposits in the South China Sea. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 176–177: 41–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2012.03.004

Li, Z., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Zhao, J., 2010. Palynological records of Holocene monsoon change from the Gulf of Tonkin (Beibuwan)‚ northwestern of South China Sea. Quaternary Research. 74: 8–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yqres.2010.04.012

Li, Z.‚ Saito, Y., Dang, X.‚ Matsumoto‚ E., Vu, Q., 2009. Warfare rather than agriculture as a critical influence on fires in the late Holocene‚ inferred from northern Vietnam. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 106 (28): 11472–11477. https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/106/28/11490.full.pdf

Li, Z., Zhang, Z.‚ Li, J., Li, Z., Liu, L., Fan, H., Li, G., 2008. Pollen distribution in surface sediments of a mangrove system‚ Yingluo Bay, Guangxi‚ China. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 152: 21–31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2008.04.001

Li, Z., Saito, Y., Matsumoto‚ E., Wang, Y., Tanabe‚ S., Zang, J., Vu, Q., 2006. Climate change and human impact on the Song Hong (Red River) delta‚ Vietnam‚ during the Holocene. Quaternary International. 144: 4–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2005.05.008

Li, Z., Saito‚ Y., Matsumoto‚ E., Wang, Y., Tanabe, S., Vu, Q., 2006. Palynological Record of climate change during the last deglaciation from the Song Hong (Red River) delta‚ Vietnam. Palaeogeography‚ Palaeoclimatology‚ Palaeoecology. 235: 406–430. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2005.11.023