A work in progress! Currently identifying species of brachiopods from the Devonian mass extinction along the NY/PA border. These fossils once lived along a water depth gradient from deeper calmer waters to shallow coastal habitats. The goal is to see how these brachiopod communities changed among these different environments. Since they lived just before the Devonian mass extinction, their environmental preferences could provide insight into what likely caused so many species to disappear during the extinction. Hopefully we will see major trends in the types of species that survive and succumb to extinction as the environments and organismal interactions change over time. More to come soon!
A joint background has served me well in my studies, and especially, in my research activities. As a Junior and Senior at St. Lawrence University I have completed a research project examining body size trends of Eocene gastropods from Seymour Island, Antarctica and crushing predation on these organisms. During the Eocene, Antarctica underwent a major cooling trend from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum with temperate conditions which changed to a cooler arctic climate upon entering the ice ages. I went down to the Florida Museum of Natural History and Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca, NY to collect data on these collections.
Today biologists are still studying what has been deemed the ‘temperature-size rule’ with larger organisms tending to exist at higher latitudes with colder climate and smaller organisms at lower latitudes under warmer conditions. My research connects this spatially based idea to a temporal timescale and interestingly enough the results match up so far. At the Geological Society of America (GSA) conference in Baltimore 2015 I presented our results in a poster session. The goal is to submit a manuscript to a journal very shortly with my geology undergraduate advisor Dr. Judith Nagel-Myers and Dr. Greg Dietl from PRI.
Taphonomic and Ecological Processes in Tropical Marine Environments, San Salvador Bahamas:
Summer of 2017 I took a summer field course at the Gerace Research Center on San Salvador Island of the Bahamas! During this 5 week course I was able to come up with a research project on marine gastropods and bivalves (snails and clams) that lived in a variety of environments across a range of salinities. I measured body sizes and noted drill holes which indicated drilling predation from predatory snails. These carnivorous snails use special enzymes and acids to better drill into their prey and I was curious to see if a change in salinity could have affected their success. Unfortunately drilling and the carnivorous snails themselves were absent from the salty lakes I sampled from, however along a tidal creek there did seem to be a slight gradient in the amount of drilling with fewer drill holes present in saltier portions of the creek. I am still working on analyzing the data I collected and hopefully will work towards publishing this project as well. This fall I will be presenting my findings at the GSA conference in Seattle, WA.