Dr James Bendle MSc, PhD

Dr James Bendle

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Reader (Associate Professor) in Organic Geochemistry

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

James is an organic geochemist specialising in paleoclimatology. His research develops and uses molecular tools to reconstruct past environmental conditions and addresses two key themes: (1) Developing new quantitative paleoclimate proxies; (2) Holocene and Cenozoic climate evolution.

For more information visit my personal website:


Orcid ID: 0000-0002-6826-8658


2010 – PGCHE, University of Glasgow
2003 – PhD, University of Durham
1999 – MSc in Quaternary Science, RHUL and UCL (University of London)


I undertake ca. 80 hours of campus-based and 2 to 3 wks (50-150 hrs) of field based teaching per year.  Including:

  • Palaeoclimates (3rd year UG and M-level)
  • Advanced Field Skills II: Assynt, NW Scotland Field course (2nd year UG)
  • Geog/Geol Final year projects (3rd year)
  • Research Skills (1st Year)
  • Advanced Projects (MSci)
  • Earth Systems (1st year)

Postgraduate supervision

James Bendle uses molecular biomarkers to study modern and past environmental processes and conditions. Organic carbon compounds are ubiquitous, abundant and sometimes overlooked components of oceans, lakes, sedimentary rocks and even atmospheric aerosols. Directly, or indirectly, they fuel all biogeochemical processes. As a paleoclimatologist, trained in molecular biogeochemistry, Dr Bendle is interested in the source, structure, and distribution of such naturally occurring compounds (biomarkers). His research is focused on the development of biomarker proxies of environmental parameters (eg, terrestrial and sea-surface temperatures, relative humidity, C3/C4 plant distribution, wetland extent) and their application to answer questions about past climatic and environmental changes.

Dr Bendle is interested in supervising doctoral researchers in all his areas of interest.

Other activities

  • Doctorial Researcher (DR) tutor for school of Earth Sciences (currently)
  • Director of the NERC CENTA Doctoral Training Partnership (2013-2019)
  • Senior DR tutor for school of GEES and Director of International Recruitment (2012-2013)
  • Membership of the American Geophysical Union, Quaternary Research Association
  • Reviewer for various journals and funding agencies, including: NERC (the UK Natural Environmental Research Council), the NSF, the Research Grant Council (RGC) of Hong Kong and the NWO (the Dutch research council), Nature, PNAS, Geology, Paleoceanography, Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, Geophysical Research Letters, Paleogeography Paleoclimatology and Paleoecology, Quaternary Science Reviews, Special Publications of The Geological Society of London.


Recent publications


Dong, Z, Yang, Y, Wang, C, Bendle, JA, Ruan, X, Lü, X & Xie, S 2023, 'Development of a novel sea surface temperature proxy based on bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 9, 1050269. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.1050269

Thorpe, AC, Mackay, EB, Goodall, T, Bendle, JA, Thackeray, SJ, Maberly, SC & Read, DS 2023, 'Evaluating the use of lake sedimentary DNA in palaeolimnology: A comparison with long‐term microscopy‐based monitoring of the phytoplankton community', Molecular ecology resources. https://doi.org/10.1111/1755-0998.13903

De Lira Mota, M, Dunkley Jones, T, Sulaiman, N, Edgar, K, Yamaguchi, T, Leng, MJ, Adloff, M, Greene, S, Norris, R, Warren, B, Duffy, G, Farrant, J, Murayama, M, Hall, J & Bendle, J 2023, 'Multi-proxy evidence for sea level fall at the onset of the Eocene-Oligocene transition', Nature Communications, vol. 14, no. 1, 4748. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-39806-6

Duncan, B, McKay, R, Levy, R, Naish, T, Prebble, JG, Sangiorgi, F, Krishnan, S, Hoem, F, Clowes, C, Jones, TD, Gasson, E, Kraus, C, Kulhanek, DK, Meyers, SR, Moossen, H, Warren, C, Willmott, V, Ventura, GT & Bendle, J 2022, 'Climatic and tectonic drivers of late Oligocene Antarctic ice volume', Nature Geoscience, vol. 15, no. 10, pp. 819–825. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-022-01025-x

Inglis, GN, Toney, JL, Zhu, J, Poulsen, CJ, Röhl, U, Jamieson, SSR, Pross, J, Cramwinckel, MJ, Krishnan, S, Pagani, M, Bijl, PK & Bendle, J 2022, 'Enhanced Terrestrial Carbon Export From East Antarctica During the Early Eocene', Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, vol. 37, no. 2, e2021PA004348. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021PA004348

Thorpe, AC, Anderson, A, Goodall, T, Thackeray, SJ, Maberly, SC, Bendle, JA, Gweon, HS & Read, DS 2022, 'Sedimentary DNA records long-term changes in a lake bacterial community in response to varying nutrient availability', Environmental DNA, vol. 4, no. 6, pp. 1340-1355. https://doi.org/10.1002/edn3.344

Yang, Y, Wang, C, Bendle, J, Luo, Z, Dang, X, Xue, J, Xiang, X & Xie, S 2021, 'Appraisal of paleoclimate indices based on bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids in 20 Chinese alkaline lakes', Organic Geochemistry, vol. 160, 104277. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2021.104277

Ashley, KE, Crosta, X, Etourneau, J, Campagne, P, Gilchrist, H, Ibraheem, U, Greene, SE, Schmidt, S, Eley, Y, Massé, G & Bendle, J 2021, 'Exploring the use of compound-specific carbon isotopes as a palaeoproductivity proxy off the coast of Adélie Land, East Antarctica', Biogeosciences, vol. 18, no. 19, pp. 5555-5571. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-18-5555-2021

Wang, C, Bendle, JA, Yang, H, Yang, Y, Hardman, A, Yamoah, A, Thorpe, A, Mandel, I, Greene, SE, Huang, J & Xie, S 2021, 'Global calibration of novel 3-hydroxy fatty acid based temperature and pH proxies', Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 302, pp. 101-119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2021.03.010

Yang, Y, Bendle, JA, Pancost, RD, Yan, Y, Ruan, X, Warren, B, Lü, X, Li, X, Yao, Y, Huang, X, Yang, H & Xie, S 2021, 'Leaf wax and Sr‐Nd isotope evidence for high‐latitude dust input to the central South China sea and its implication for fertilization', Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 48, no. 11, e2020GL091853. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020gl091853

Ashley, K, McKay, R, Etourneau, J, Jimenez-Espejo, F, Condron, A, Albot, A, Crosta, X, Riesselman, C, Seki, O, Massé, G, Golledge, N, Gasson, E, Lowry, D, Barrand, N, Johnson, K, Bertler, N, Escutia, C, Dunbar, R & Bendle, J 2021, 'Mid-Holocene Antarctic sea-ice increase driven by marine ice sheet retreat', Climate of the Past, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-17-1-2021

Johnson, KM, McKay, RM, Etourneau, J, Jiménez-Espejo, FJ, Albot, A, Riesselman, CR, Bertler, NAN, Horgan, HJ, Crosta, X, Bendle, J, Ashley, KE, Yamane, M, Yokoyama, Y, Pekar, SF, Escutia, C & Dunbar, RB 2021, 'Sensitivity of Holocene East Antarctic productivity to subdecadal variability set by sea ice', Nature Geoscience, vol. 14, no. 10, pp. 762-768. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-021-00816-y

Yang, Y, Wang, C, Bendle, JA, Yu, X, Gao, C, Lü, X, Ruan, X, Wang, R & Xie, S 2020, 'A new sea surface temperature proxy based on bacterial 3-hydroxy fatty acids', Organic Geochemistry, vol. 141, 103975. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2020.103975

Bendle, J 2020, 'Large-scale mass wasting on the Miocene continental margin of western India', Geological Society of America Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1130/b35158.1

Conference contribution

Hall, J, Jones, S, Jones, TD & Bendle, J 2021, Mid-Pliocene warming: reducing discrepancies between geological archives and climate models in the NE Atlantic and Nordic Seas. in EGU General Assembly 2021., EGU21-220, European Geosciences Union, EGU General Assembly 2021, 19/04/21. https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-220

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