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Earth is the only planet in the universe currently known to harbor life. When and how did Earth become inhabited? How have biological activities altered the planet? How have environmental changes affected the evolution of life? Are we living in a sixth mass extinction? In this course, we will develop and use the tools of geology, paleontology, geochemistry, and modeling that allow us to reconstruct Earth¿s 4.5 billion year history and to reconstruct the interactions between life and its host planet over the past 4 billion years. We will also ask what this long history can tell us about life¿s likely future on Earth. We will also use One half-day field trip.

Life originally evolved in the ocean. When, why, and how did the major transitions occur in the history of marine life? What triggered the rapid evolution and diversification of animals in the Cambrian, after more than 3.5 billion years of Earth's history? What caused Earth's major mass extinction events? How do ancient extinction events compare to current threats to marine ecosystems? How has the evolution of primary producers impacted animals, and how has animal evolution impacted primary producers? In this course, we will review the latest evidence regarding these major questions in the history of marine ecosystems. We will develop familiarity with the most common groups of marine animal fossils. We will also conduct original analyses of paleontological data, developing skills both in the framing and testing of scientific hypotheses and in data analysis and presentation.

Lecture and discussion covering key topics in the history of life on Earth, as well as basic principles that apply to life in the universe. Co-evolution of Earth and life; critical intervals of environmental and biological change; geomicrobiology; paleobiology; global biogeochemical cycles; scaling of geobiological processes in space and time.

Reading course addressing current topics in geobiology. Topics will vary from year to year, but will generally cover areas of current debate in the primary literature, such as the origin of life, the origin and consequences of oxygenic photosynthesis, environmental controls on and consequences of metabolic innovations in microbes, the early evolution of animals and plants, and the causes and consequences of major extinction events. Participants will be expected to read and present on current papers in the primary literature.

Processes of precipitation and sedimentation of carbonate minerals with emphasis on marine systems. Topics include: geographic and bathymetric distribution of carbonates in modern and ancient oceans; genesis and environmental significance of carbonate grains and sedimentary textures; carbonate rocks and sediments as sources of geochemical proxy data; carbonate diagenesis; changes in styles of carbonate deposition through Earth history; carbonate depositional patterns and the global carbon cycle. Lab exercises emphasize petrographic and geochemical analysis of carbonate rocks including map and outcrop scale, hand samples, polished slabs, and thin sections.

Preference to graduate students and upper-division undergraduates in GES and Biology. The influence of organism size on evolutionary and ecological patterns and processes. Focus is on integration of theoretical principles, observations of living organisms, and data from the fossil record. What are the physiological and ecological correlates of body size? Is there an optimum size? Do organisms tend to evolve to larger size? Does productivity control the size distribution of consumers? Does size affect the likelihood of extinction or speciation? How does size scale from the genome to the phenotype? How is metabolic rate involved in evolution of body size? What is the influence of geographic area on maximum body size?