Giselle Astorga


Resident Lecturer


Puerto Natales, Chile


Ph.D. in Biological Sciences (Plant Science)
School of Plant Science, University of Tasmania (Tasmania, Australia)

Licenciate Degree in Biological Sciences
Escuela de Ciencias Biologicas, Universidad Austral de Chile (Valdivia, Chile)


SFS 3601 Earth Systems and Climate Science
The School for Field Studies

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Faculty Profile

Giselle is a Chilean paleobotanist who did her undergraduate studies at Universidad Austral de Chile. During her honors thesis, she developed research focusing on the identification of plant macrofossils from the Eemian Interglacial period in the Valdivian region. She later received a scholarship from the National Research and Development Agency of Chile (ANID) to complete her Ph. D. in Biological Sciences at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Her Ph.D. research was mainly focused on the study of plant macrofossils to investigate how alpine and subalpine plants have responded to the environmental changes that occurred from the transition of the last glaciation to current interglacial Holocene conditions in south-central Tasmania. After finishing her doctorate studies, she received a research grant from the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Research (FONDECYT) to develop her postdoctoral studies using fossil leaves to study CO2 and vegetation changes in south-central Chile over the last 26,000 years. Giselle’s research is mainly focused on the analysis of leaf cuticles to assist pollen-based vegetation reconstructions. She also has a deep interest in working with actualistic taphonomy of plant remains that can provide us with a better understanding of the fossil record.

Academics & Research

Areas of Expertise

  • Paleoecology
  • Paleoclimate
  • Plant Taphonomy

Research Interests

My research interests are mainly related to the reconstruction of paleoclimate and paleoecology using plant macrofossils, particularly fossil leaves. Additionally, I have developed a deep interest in actualistic plant taphonomy to aid with the interpretation of the plant fossil record. I have also developed interests in studying plant remains from early human settlements in southern Chile and modern leaf plant traits —leaf veins and stomata—to study specific environmental aspects such as past levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and forest structure.



Londoño, L., Villagrán, C., Rincón, I., Hinojosa, L.F. & Astorga, G.A. “Mid-Holocene vegetation history from palynological and plant macrofossils analyses at Huapilacuy II, Isla Grande de Chiloé.” Andean Geology, 49 (1): 123-142 (2022). doi:
Martel-Cea, A., Astorga, G.A., Hernández, M. et al. Modern chironomids (Diptera: Chironomidae) and the environmental variables that influence their distribution in the Araucanian lakes, south-central Chile. Hydrobiologia 848, 2551–2568 (2021).
Pino M., Astorga G.A, editors. Pilauco: A Late Pleistocene Archaeo-paleontological Site: Osorno, Northwestern Patagonia, Chile. Springer International Publishing (2020).
Pino M., Abarzúa A.M., Astorga G.A. et al. Sedimentary record from Patagonia, southern Chile supports cosmic-impact triggering of biomass burning, climate change, and megafaunal extinctions at 12.8 ka. Scientific Report-Nature 9, 4413 (2019).
Astorga G., Jordan G. and Brodribb T. Towards understanding the fossil record better: Insights from recently deposited lake macrofossils in Australia. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 233, 1-11 (2016).
Astorga G., Pino M. Fossil leaves from the last interglacial in southern-central Chile: Inferences regarding the vegetation and paleoclimate. Geologica Acta 9, 45-54 (2011).
Astorga G., Ramos P. Semillas de Lleuque en el sitio Pilauco. In 'Pilauco, un sitio complejo del Pleistoceno tardío: Osorno, Norpatagonia Chilena. (Ed. M Pino). Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia-Chile.


Astorga G., Abarzúa A. M. Poster presentation. Annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia (2019), Launceston-Australia.
Astorga G. & Jordan G. Symposium paper presented at I Congreso Chileno de Paleontología (2018), Punta Arenas-Chile.
Gómez G., Astorga G., Abarzúa A. M., García J. L., Larraín J. & Villagrán C. Poster presentation I Congreso de Paleontología (2018), Punta Arenas-Chile.
Martel-Cea A., Astorga G., Jarpa L., Massaferro J., Abarzúa A.M. Poster session at the 5th PAGES Open Science Meeting.
Astorga G., Jordan G. & Brodribb T. Symposium paper, IV Simposio de Paleontología (2014), Valdivia-Chile.
Astorga G., Jordan G. & Brodribb T. Symposium paper, VII Southern Connection Congress (2013), Dunedin, New Zealand. 
Astorga G. & Jordan G. XI Australian Bryophyte Workshop (2012). Sapphire Coast, New South Wales, Australia.
Astorga G. & Jordan G. Poster session: The importance of the past —the paleoecological context of modern landscapes. Annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia (2011), Hobart, Tasmania.