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2000 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  JUL 1999 – JUN 2000

Causes and Consequences of the Diversification and Extinction of Metasoans: Field, Geochemical and Paleontological Investigations - Mark E. Patzkowsky (Co-PI)

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

We have begun to collect a multifaceted database of Neoproterozoic and Cambrian macrofossil occurrences. In addition to genus and species occurrences, data recorded include latitude and longitude, primary lithology, depositional environment, tectonic setting, and taphonomy of deposit. These data will permit us to evaluate the environmental and geographic context of the origin and diversification of multicellular animal communities. The data are part of a larger project on the Phanerozoic fossil record sponsored by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara. We have spent much of the past year setting up the database structure and making preliminary analyses of the data. A first manuscript was recently submitted to SCIENCE.

We have achieved the main goal of year 2 which was to begin collecting and entering Neoproterozoic and Cambrian macrofossil occurrences into a flaxible database sturcture. We plan to continue collecting data over the next year. Based on the rate at which data are collected and entered into the database I suspect that we will be ready to perform some preliminary analyses by the end of the year. I will also be directing a M.S. student on a project concerning the Late Ordovician mass extinction and its effects on marine community structure. Since this mass extinction is known to be associated with a rapid and severe glaciation event, it has important implications for Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth scenarios and in particular how global ecosystems respond to such events.

    Mark Patzkowsky
    Project Investigator

    Philip Borkow
    Undergraduate Student

    Kyle Straub
    Undergraduate Student

    Objective 5.0
    Describe the sequences of causes and effects associated with the development of Earth's early biosphere and the global environment.

    Objective 7.0
    Identify the environmental limits for life by examining biological adaptations to extremes in environmental conditions.

    Objective 10.0
    Understand the natural processes by which life can migrate from one world to another. Are we alone in the Universe?

    Objective 12.0
    Define climatological and geological effects upon the limits of habitable zones around the Sun and other stars to help define the frequency of habitable planets in the universe.

    Objective 14.0
    Determine the resilience of local and global ecosystems through their response to natural and human-induced disturbances.

    Objective 15.0
    Model the future habitability of Earth by examining the interactions between the biosphere and the chemistry and radiation balance of the atmosphere.