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Causes of Mass Extinction graph

Causes and Consequences of Mass Extinction

One primary focus of current research in the Paleobiology Lab is field-based examination of biological evolution and environmental change associated with the end-Permian extinction and its aftermath. We have used a variety of approaches to attempt to better characterize the cause(s) of mass extinction, to quantify the pattern and timing of extinction and recovery, and to identify connections between biological and environmental change through this important interval of Earth history.
Extinction Selectivity

Extinction Selectivity

One of the most important unsolved questions in the fields of paleobiology, evolution, and conservation biology is why some species go extinct while others survive. Patterns of extinction selectivity in the fossil record can shed light on the causes of mass extinction events, reveal differences in process between background and mass extinction, quantify the importance of selection above the species level in driving evolutionary patterns, and help us to predict which living species are at greatest risk of extinction.
Paleoecology and Paleophysiology graph

Evolutionary Paleoecology and Paleophysiology

Numerous paleontologists have suggested that the total abundance (or biomass) of animals has increased substantially over the course of the past 550 million years, perhaps driven by gradual or episodic increases in nutrient supply and food availability. We have been working to quantify short-term and long-term changes in animal abundance and food requirements.
Graph of sizes of the largest fossils through Earth history.

Evolution of Body Size

Research on the evolution of body size in the lab has grown out of observed shifts in maximum and mean size in gastropods and other higher taxa across the end-Permian mass extinction. Our goal is to use time-series of sizes in gastropods and other higher taxa to identify environmental and biological controls on body size evolution.