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Marine Ecosystem Stability and Turnover


Modern sea-level and climate changes have a strong potential to shift biological communities into novel states that have not present-day analogues, leaving ecologists with no observation basis to predict the likely biotic effects. The fossil record can offer examples of long-term biotic responses to past environmental changes, if portrayed in an appropriate time environmental framework.
Project MAREST will use an integrated field-based and analytical approach that combines for the first time sequence stratigraphy and palaeoecology – the core disciplines of Stratigraphic Palaeobiology - and geochemistry, to answer the following questions: (i) how do marine benthic communities respond to cyclic sea level changes? (ii) Do communities continuously change through time or alternate intervals of stasis and turnover? (ii) What is the relationship between the stratigraphic architecture and environmental perturbations that cause turnover? Whereas similar questions have been addressed for Palaeozoic and Caenozoic fauna, no attempt exists for the Mesozoic, a fundamental period in the history of life. The project will focus on the Middle-Upper Jurassic of the Western Interior (USA), where macro-invertebrate rich, onshore-offshore sections, can be followed between and within third- (1-10my) and second-order depositional sequences (100ky-1my) and parasequences (10-100ky). The project will (i) be the first study to test the role of sea level and environmental changes in shaping the structure and diversity of shallow water benthic communities in the Mesozoic; (ii) bridge current research in Stratigraphic Palaeobiology and stable isotope geochemistry; (iii) create a novel collaboration between the University of Georgia Stratigraphic Lab (USA) and the Centre for Research in Earth Science at Plymouth University (UK); (iv) bring back to Europe unique research expertise in Stratigraphic Palaeobiology and quantitative data analysis that will contribute to the ERA excellence.

Call for proposal

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Drake Circus
PL4 8AA Plymouth
United Kingdom

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Gregory Price (Dr.)
EU contribution
€ 282 109,20