Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt

Quaternary Macroflora Section

dr. Kseniia Ashastina

Dr. Kseniia Ashastina 


University education 


PhD thesis for Biological Science by the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany.


Master of Science for Applied Polar and Marine Sciences, POMOR Master Program, double degree
awarded by the University of St.Petersburg, Russia and the University of Hamburg, Germany.


Diploma of specialist in geography: St. Petersburg State University Faculty of Geography and
Geoecology, Russia.



OPEL, T., MURTON, J. B., WETTERICH, S., MEYER, H., ASHASTINA, K., GÜNTHER, F., GROTHEER, H., MOLLENHAUER, G., DANILOV, P. P., BOESKOROV, V., SAWINOV, G. N. & SCHIRRMEISTER, L. (2019): Past climate and continentality inferred from ice wedges at Batagay megaslump in the Northern Hemisphere’s most continental region, Yana Highlands, interior Yakutia. – Climate of the Past 15: 1443-1461 |

ASHASTINA, K. (2018): Palaeo-environments at the Batagay site in inland West Beringia during the late Quaternary. PhD thesis, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany.

KIENAST, F., ASHASTINA, K. & TROEVA, E. (2018): Phylogeography of a west-Beringian endemic plant: An ancient seed of Stellaria jacutica Schischk. detected in permafrost deposits of the last interglacial. – Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 259: 48-54 | doi: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2018.09.012.

ASHASTINA, K., KUZMINA, S., RUDAYA, N., TROEVA, E., SCHOCH, W. H., RÖMERMANN, C., REINECKE, J., OTTE, V., SAWINOV, G., WESCHE, K., KIENAST, F. (2018): Woodlands and steppes: Pleistocene vegetation in Yakutia's most continental part recorded in the Batagay permafrost sequence. – Quaternary Science Reviews 196: 38-61 | doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.07.032.

ASHASTINA, K., SCHIRRMEISTER, L., FUCHS, M. & KIENAST, F. (2017): Palaeoclimate characteristics in interior Siberia of MIS 6–2 - first insights from the Batagay permafrost mega-thaw slump in the Yana Highlands. – Climate of the Past 13: 795-818 | doi: 0.5194/cp-13-795-2017.

ASHASTINA, K., KIENAST, F., RÖMERMANN, C., KUZMINA, S., DIEKMANN, B., SCHIRRMEISTER, L. (2017): The Batagay permafrost mega thaw slump - an environmental archive of Late Pleistocene continental climate. European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2017, 24. April 2017, Vienna, Austria. – Geophysical Research Abstracts 19: EGU2017-959.

ASHASTINA, K., SCHIRRMEISTER, L., FUCHS, M. & KIENAST, F. (2016): Pleistocene climate characteristics in the most continental part of the northern hemisphere - insights from cryolithological features of the Batagay mega thaw slump in the Siberian Yana Highlands. – Climate of the Past Discussions | doi: 10.5194/cp-2016-84, 2016.

KIENAST, F., ASHASTINA, K., RUDAYA, N. & WESCHE, K. (2016): Last interglacial versus last cold stage - Palaeovegetation in North Yakutia’s most continental part recorded in the Batagai permafrost sequence. – XI. International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP), 20.-24.06.2016, Potsdam, Germany. Book of Abstracts | doi: 10.2312/GFZ.LIS.2016.001.

ASHASTINA, K., SCHIRRMEISTER, L., DIEKMANN, B. & KIENAST, F. (2016): The Batagai Outcrop – window into the past of North Yakutia’s most continental part. – XI. International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP), 20.-24.06.2016, Potsdam, Germany. Book of Abstracts | doi:10.2312/GFZ.LIS.2016.001.

ASHASTINA, K. & KIENAST, F. (2016): Geheimnisse im sibirischen Permafrost. – Senckenberg - natur • forschung • museum 146 (9/10): 260-273; Frankfurt a. M.

Research project

The end of the Pleistocene tundra steppe – interactions between vegetation, climate and large herbivores in Beringia during the late Quaternary

 Frieze Project Tundra steppe

As part of the project group ‘The impact of coastline shifts, climate and herbivory on Arctic vegetation during the Quaternary’, the research project reveals the ecological interactions of climate, vegetation and large herbivores in the Arctic during the late Quaternary by combining palaeobotanical results with studies of modern plant communities in Yakutia, Russian Federation.  Macroscopic plant remains are preserved in excellent condition in syngenetic permafrost sequences in the Yana and Kolyma catchment areas and are used to reconstruct structure, composition and dynamics of the late Quaternary vegetation in NE-Siberia. The reconstructed palaeovegetation will be compared then with modern plant cover in North Yakutia: on the one hand with unaffected vegetation along the main, climatically controlled gradient and on the other hand with vegetation heavily disturbed by grazing. By combining both approaches, the relative proportions of climate and grazing effects as potential main drivers determining the characteristics of extant and Pleistocene vegetation in western Beringia will be identified.

The project includes expeditions to Yakutia in 2014 and 2015. The first expedition is already completed. An outcrop close to Batagai was explored and samples were taken for plant remains and sediment composition analysis. At the same time, the recent steppe vegetation in the surrounding Yana highlands was studied by the working group of Karsten Wesche (Senckenberg Görlitz) in the scope of a sister project.

With a picture taken on the expedition 2014, K. Ashastina 2017 became the winner of the Nature photo contest „Scientist at Work“.