A fundamental question in evolutionary ecology and palaeoceanography is why so many groups of planktic organisms are so susceptible to extinction despite having a wealth of traits (huge population sizes, cosmopolitan distributions, rapid reproduction rates) that classic evolutionary theory suggests should make them practically immune to extinction. This proposal aims to address this paradox by evaluating the role of changes in surface ocean hydrography as a trigger for extinction of plankton species. I will utilise the excellent fossil record of planktic foraminifera to reconstruct the palaeobiogeographic nature of extinction events at high resolution (~500 year), and to generate contemporaneous palaeoceanographic records of surface ocean hydrographic gradients across entire basins. These records will allow me to test different hypotheses for the role of hydrographic change in plankton extinctions. This proposal fulfils the objectives of the Marie Curie OIF action because it will enable me, as a researcher, to work and develop scientific collaborations in one of the world¿s largest and most important marine research institutes ¿ Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), USA. The combination of world-class expertise at SIO in both marine evolutionary ecology and palaeoceanography makes SIO uniquely placed to realise the objectives of my proposed research fellowship. The return phase will allow me to capitalise on the experience and training gained at SIO by working in one of Europe¿s leading centres for palaeoceanography and evolutionary studies using foraminifera ¿ Cardiff, UK. This opportunity is fundamental to my obtaining a full-time research position and a career as a professional researcher. This fellowship will be conducted under the auspices of the international marine research network of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) and, as such, will further promote and develop palaeoceanographic research collaboration between Europe and the USA.
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