The Geobiology/Paleobiology Seminar Series is jointly hosted by OEB and EPS
"Mass extinctions, the spatial fossil record, and how paleoecology may help save the planet"by Simon Darroch (Vanderbilt University)
A critical challenge for paleontologists in the 21st Century is deciding how to use the fossil record to generate tools relevant to the current biodiversity crisis - the ‘6th mass extinction’. Here, I argue that too much effort has been spent on comparing current rates of species loss with those extrapolated from the past, because species may not need to be extinct for ecosystems to collapse – they may only need to be rare. Instead, the spatial components of past extinctions (changes in geographic range sizes, as well as emergent properties such as beta diversity) may provide a better metric for comparing between modern and ancient crises. Lastly, I discuss evidence for an Ediacaran-Cambrian (~542 Ma) mass extinction – the ‘first mass extinction of complex life’. Unlike the Phanerozoic ‘Big Five’, this extinction may have been driven by evolutionary innovation, ecosystem engineering and biological interactions, providing a powerful analogue for the present day. Read more about Paleobiology Seminar
Interactions between organic and inorganic processes are fundamental to development and growth. The initiation of shell formation in extant shelled molluscs appears to be an evolutionarily conserved process. Nevertheless, the physiology that coordinates biomineralization can be hindered by adverse environmental conditions, during which shells also retain environmental information that can be probed through geochemistry. Possible solutions Read more about Geobiology Seminar: "Mechanisms of the calcification response to ocean change"
The study of triple oxygen isotope variations (D17O) in the hydrological cycle and atmosphere has progressed significantly in the last ten years, and new analytical methods permit high-precision triple oxygen isotope Read more about Geobiology Seminar