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Species-level diversity curve for Middle Ordovician Laurentian brachiopods published in GEOLOGY

Congratulations to alumnus Sarah Trubovitz on the publication of her MS thesis research in GEOLOGY!   **clicking this link bypasses the paywall, so click here!

Also, this is the first official publication of IGCP 653: Onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. Our project is off to a great start!


Synchronous diversification of Laurentian and Baltic rhynchonelliform brachiopods: Implications for regional versus global triggers of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event

The profound global impact of marine radiations during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE) is widely appreciated; however, diversification varied among paleocontinents and these individual trajectories are less understood. Here we present a new species-level diversity curve for rhynchonelliform brachiopods from midcontinental Laurentia based on bed-by-bed analysis of the Simpson Group of Oklahoma (USA).

Ordovician meets the Anthropocene @ ESA

Ordovician meets the Anthropocene @ ESA

IMG_5997For my final adventure of the summer, I traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to present an invited talk about lessons learned from invasive species in the fossil record at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) meeting.  I was very honored to be part of an exciting symposium titled: “Ecological novelty in the Anthropocene: Are novel communities novel ecosystems?” convened by Jacquelyn Gill and Alejo Ordonez.

The organizers did a wonderful job of arranging a series of presenters who explored the issue of ecosystem novelty from multiple perspectives including conceptually, experimentally, and policy implications.  My talk (abstract here) provided the deep time context and an exploration of what does novel mean within a non-human context.

As a scientist who studies the deep history of life (~450  million years ago), I am always very cognizant of the different lenses with which we can study and discuss patterns at varying temporal scales.  One of the key concepts that was emphasized, particularly in the panel discussion at the end of the session, was that novelty is continuously being produced.  Earth does not now, and never has, existed in a steady state for extended temporal intervals.  So it is extremely important to consider consequences and definitions when attempting to generate a conservation plan.  What is it that you are attempting to conserve?  Is it a species?  Is it ecosystem services? It is energy flow and functioning?  These are incredibly important questions that must be answered by policy makers.  They are also the types of issues that the fossil record can help to provide insight into as well.
In addition to the formal session, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the other speakers over meals and down time.  I made some new colleagues with potential new collaborations, and learned quite a bit about various areas of ecology that will help me to consider my paleontological questions with new eyes and insights.  This was my first time to an ESA meeting, and I hope it will not be my last.IMG_6011

Side notes: Poolside hammocks and bar at the ESA hotel were a nice touch! And the place was crawling with Magicarp and Psyduck (which I dutifully captured for my kids, right for my kids).


Teaching (and learning from!) teachers

by Alycia Stigall
Teaching (and learning from!) teachers

LogoThe first two weeks of August, I was privileged to help colleagues from the OHIO Patton College of Education lead a workshop to provide training for teachers of science in grades 4-8 in southeastern Ohio. As all good programs do, we had an unwieldy title: Scaffolding Inquiry and Problem Solving through Literacy and Assessment, which we shortened to SIPLAS.

I collaborated on a similar grant in 2013, and it is such a rewarding experience to work with these dedicated and talented educators. The teachers are really inspiring educators, and I learn so much from working with them that allows me to improve my own practice.  The SIPLAS program was designed to introduce participants to pedagogical methods in engineering design, literacy, and assessment while providing updated training in scientific content.IMG_5923

My role was to provide training in a series of geology topics. In my two days of leadership we covered: Fossils of Ohio (in the lab and in the field!), building dichotomous keys, earthquakes and plate tectonics, and development and extraction of ore deposits. The hallmark of the lessons is that they must employ authentic data. So we studied Ordovician fossils from near Cincinnati, Pennsylvanian fossils on nearby hills, the IRIS earthquake server, and USGS browsers of ore deposits.

My education faculty colleagues, particularly Danielle Dani and Sara Helfrich, worked hard to make sure my science ideas translated into standards aligned lessons with practical utility. For example, we practiced writing strategies (in which most participants wrote essays about why brachiopods preserve better than bivalves!  Awesome!) The integration of authentic and place-based data really makes these lessons work. Some of our participants planned to start of the year with the new lesson plans and others had excellent ideas for how to incorporate the new pedagogical strategies to improve their students learning. Clearly a successful week!

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