Postdoctoral Fellow

Ecological controls on evolutionary rates in marine systems

PI(s): Paul G Harnik
Start Date: 1-Sep-2011
End Date: 30-Jun-2013
Keywords: biodiversity, macroevolution, ecology, paleontology, database

Extinction and origination rates vary over time, space, and among groups of organisms. Understanding the factors that generate such variation is essential for teasing apart the processes underlying biodiversity change over geologic time and for using the fossil record to inform our predictions of how biological systems will respond to future environmental changes. Despite extensive study, our understanding of the controls of evolutionary rates has been limited by the failure to integrate data and concepts between paleobiology and evolutionary biology; most paleobiological analyses are conducted in the absence of a phylogenetic framework and most comparative phylogenetic analyses are conducted on clades with relatively poor fossil records. As a NESCent postdoctoral fellow, I will foster such synthesis by aggregating data for extinct and extant marine scallops (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Pectinidae) that I will use to investigate (1) the contributions of geographic range and body size to extinction and origination rates over the Cenozoic, and (2) the effects of contemporary extinction on future diversification in the ocean. Scallops exhibit a rare congruence between molecular and morphological phylogenies, have an exceptional fossil record, and extensive information exists on the diversity, life history, and biogeography of living species, making them a model system for synthetic biodiversity research. My postdoctoral research will compliment the activities of a NESCent working group I am co-leading on marine extinction dynamics by providing a clade-level assessment of extinction controls and by contributing additional data to the group’s synoptic database.

More information, links to publications, and my CV are on my website:

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  • Harnik, P.G. June 2012. Biological determinants of extinction risk in the marine bivalve fossil record. American Malacological Society annual meeting, Cherry Hill.
  • Harnik, P.G., P.C. Fitzgerald, and S.J. Carlson. July 2012. Geographic range and extinction risk among Devonian terebratulide brachiopods. Society for the Study of Evolution annual meeting, Ottawa.
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