Palaeobiology has contributed to the understanding of drivers of current global changes in ecosystem composition and diversity by analyzing geological records of past environmental change. This session includes topics pertaining to conservation palaeobiology, taphonomy, stratigraphic palaeobiology and topics on the use of biominerals as archives for palaeoecological and palaeoclimatic information.
Conservation Palaeobiology has demonstrated the potential for analyzing historical environmental and ecosystem changes by using approaches and techniques gleaned from diverse fields of earth sciences. A key factor in translating data from the fossil record lies in understanding how preservational processes filter our knowledge of past environmental and diversity change. Reading the fossil record against its sequence stratigraphic background can help separate the effects of these two suites of processes. With increasingly better constrained palaeoenvironmental, geochemical and palaeogeographic data, secular changes in global-scale and regional-scale spatial patterning of extinction, origination and migration and the location of diversity hotspots and sinks can be more rigorously. Such approaches allow for a better understanding of processes that generate and maintain biogeographic patterns, such as latitudinal and onshore-offshore gradients in diversity and in evolutionary turnover.
Biomineralization represents a main driving force of ecological and evolutionary trends. Sea level and climatic changes, coupled with changes in seawater chemistry, exert a major influence on the composition of fossil assemblages and on metabolic and physiological pathways that modulate Biominerals. These provide key archives for palaeoecological and palaeoclimatic information with carbonate, silicate, phosphate and other minerals formed within living tissues being readily preserved over geological timescales. (Solicited speakers: Chris Perry & Malcolm Hart; Invited speakers: Maggie Cusack,Erica Griesshaber)