Postdoctoral Fellow

Examining paleontological extinction patterns to predict modern extinction vulnerability

PI(s): Jenny L McGuire
Start Date: 1-Sep-2010
End Date: 31-Jan-2012

Projected climate change poses a large threat to ecosystems and species, but it is hard to know how to prioritize conservation efforts. This is where paleontology can be helpful in informing policy, ecology, and conservation. By exploring how animals have reacted to historic environmental changes, we can begin to predict which species will be most affected today. In doing so, we can prioritize where and how we should spend our resources to maximally protect biodiversity. If an animal is forced to shift where it lives in response to changing climates, it is difficult to tell whether a reduction in its geographic range is a typical reaction to that stressor or whether the species' range contraction may be leading to ultimate extinction. My research will examine past range contractions to establish a signal that indicates when a species is likely to go extinct. The signal will then be applied to modern range contractions to predict species' vulnerability to extinction.

Related products

  • McGuire, J.L. 2011. How Quaternary climate change patterns morphological variation in Microtus californicus. 71st Annual Meeting, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Las Vegas, NV. Presented in invited symposium: Symposium II- Climate Change and Vertebrate Response in the Evolving Arid West of Plio-Pleistocene North America.
  • McGuire, J. L. 2011. Mammalian responses to climate change: a paleontological perspective. Lunch Bunch Seminar, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • McGuire, J. L. 2011. Mammalian responses to climate change: a paleontological perspective. Department Seminar, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
  • McGuire, J.L. 2011. Past climate set the stage for future responses to climate change: morphological evolution in Microtus californicus. Evolution Annual Meeting, Norman, OK. July 20, 2011.
  • McGuire, J.L. and Davis, E.B. 2011. Using the paleontological record of Microtus to test species distribution models and reveal responses to climate change. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN. October 11, 2011.
  • McGuire, J.L. 2010. Interpreting recent small-mammal range shifts in Yosemite in light of the Quaternary fossil record. 70th Annual Meeting, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Pittsburgh, PA. Romer Student Prize Session.
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