Post-Doctoral Position in Paleobiology (Florida Museum of Natural History)

Dr. Tyler invites applications for a post-doc position in the Invertebrate Paleontology Division at the Florida Museum of Natural History (University of Florida) in paleobiology/paleoecology. We are seeking motivated candidates, preferably with experience in quantitative paleoecology and stratigraphic paleobiology. The successful candidates will be part of two NSF-funded projects focused on marine invertebrate paleobiology.

For additional information, or to submit a letter of application, a CV including a list of publications, and contact information for at least two referees contact Dr. Carrie Tyler (tylercl at MiamiOH dot edu). Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Project Description:

Evolutionary Significance of Biotic Interactions: A Comparative Study Utilizing Echinoid Associated Traces 

PI: C. Tyler (Miami University) & M. Kowalewski (U. Florida)

Predators often leave distinct marks on prey skeletons, including tooth marks, fractures, scars, and drill holes. Fossils that contain those distinct marks can be used to explore the role of predation over the span of millions of years. To date, research on the fossil record of predation has centered mainly on mollusks: snails, clams, and their relatives. The proposed project will expand the history of predation beyond mollusks, and assess the impact of predation on sea urchins, sand dollars, and other echinoids. Echinoids are a commercially important group of animals and a major food source for many marine predators. This project aims to develop a global reference system for identifying traces left by predators on echinoid prey, which is expected to stimulate echinoid research on both modern and ancient ecosystems. Once assembled, the database will then be used to study the impact of predators on the evolution of echinoids over the last 100 million years, during which, they have diversified and become a critical part of the marine biosphere.

Neontological museum collections in conjunction with the literature will be used to codify trace characteristics of various types of interactions (predation, parasitism, commensalism, etc.) that affect modern echinoids. The resultant database will include data on the identity/ecology of trace makers, identity/ecology/phylogeny of affected echinoids, and morphology, frequency, and distribution of traces. The database will then be used to explore the fossil record, and evaluate hypotheses regarding the relative evolutionary importance of select types of biotic interactions affecting the ecology and evolutionary history of echinoids.

Results will be publicly available through museum activities, activity kits for middle school students, and teaching tools in the Florida Museum of Natural History Educator Resource program.

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