Evolutionary Paleoecology

(Director, René Bobe). Research interests include: Links between climatic changes and evolutionary processes. How do species respond in geological time to the dynamic nature of Earth’s climate? How can we best use the fossil record to infer environmental changes? How can we most meaningfully study ecological dynamics at different time and geographic scales? To explore these questions we focus on the analysis of fossil mammals that provide long-term records of ecological and evolutionary processes. Our research requires extensive time in the field to survey, document, collect, and analyze fossil mammals. The link between climate and evolution is particularly relevant to our understanding of human origins. Currently we have ongoing fieldwork with the Dikika Research Project in the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia, the Mursi Formation Project in the lower Omo Valley of southern Ethiopia, and several projects in the Lake Turkana region of northern Kenya. In addition to this work in East Africa, we are now conducting fieldwork in Patagonia to document the environmental context of the earliest South American primates.

Major equipment: Most of our research takes place at field sites in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Chile, and at natural history museums in Washington, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, and Santiago. Our lab has a primate osteological collection that includes specimens of Theropithecus, Mandrillus, Cercocebus, and Macaca, among others.

Sample publication: Bobe, R. (2011). Fossil mammals and paleoenvironments in the Omo-Turkana Basin. Evolutionary Anthropology, 20(6), 254-263

Posted in Uncategorized, February 2nd, 2012