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2001 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  JUL 2000 – JUN 2001

Causes and Consequences of the Diversification and Extinction of Metazoans: Paleontological Approach

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Causes and Consequences of the Diversification and Extinction of Metazoans (dm)

We have built an extensive database (nearly 1000 fossil collections) of Neoproterozoic and Cambrian macrofossil occurrences in order to evaluate the timing of the Cambrian explosion as well as its environmental and geographic context. The data were entered into the Paleobiology Database housed at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, California ( A preliminary report on the Paleobiology Database was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. We have met most of our main objectives, which were to (1) redesign the database and implement a standardized structure and (2) to begin building the Neoproterozoic and Cambrian data.

We also made progress on investigating the Late Ordovician mass extinction. We are working on an analysis of taxonomic and environmental patterns of extinction and recovery on Laurentia. We have collected an extensive database over the last year.We have also performed simulations of Late Ordovician climate using the GENESIS 2.0 global climate model in order to investigate the role of paleogeography, atmospheric pCO2 levels, and sea level in causing the Late Ordovician glaciation. We have met all of our main objectives, which were to make preliminary studies into the physical factors underlying the Late Ordovician glaciation and the paleontological patterns of Late Ordovician mass extinction and recovery.

    Mark Patzkowsky
    Project Investigator

    Richard Wilkin

    Achim Herrmann
    Graduate Student

    Andrew Krug
    Graduate Student

    Philip Borkow
    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 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.