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Extramural Research

Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

The Long-Term Evolution of Community Structure Among Benthic Marine Invertebrates

EPA Grant Number: U915628
Title: The Long-Term Evolution of Community Structure Among Benthic Marine Invertebrates
Investigators: Peters, Shanan E.
Institution: University of Chicago
EPA Project Officer: Boddie, Georgette
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through September 1, 2002
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999)
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Earth Sciences



The objectives of this research project are to: (1) document the long-term evolution of community structure during the Ordovician radiation of benthic marine invertebrates; (2) explore the relationship between morphologic disparity and community structure on evolutionary time scales; (3) understand the evolutionary consequences of abundance/rarity; and (4) determine environmental factors important in maintaining within-habitat biodiversity among benthic marine invertebrates.


To test whether ecologically based predictions are relevant to the long-term evolution of community structure, well-preserved Cambrian to Ordovician fossil assemblages from North America will be quantitatively sampled. The Ordovician is particularly appropriate for testing hypotheses concerning the evolution of community structure because it is a period of rapid taxonomic diversification and morphologic evolution for many modern and extinct groups. Evenness will be measured using an appropriate summary statistic, and morphologic disparity will be quantified from published analyses and from simple independent analyses.

Expected Results:

With a comprehensive community-level paleontological database containing species-level presence/absence, abundance, and morphologic data as well as information about paleoenvironmental conditions, it should be possible to address many hypotheses concerning the evolution of community structure and the influence of abundance on rates of evolution.

Supplemental Keywords:

paleoecology, competition, community structure., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Oceanography, Aquatic Ecosystem, Monitoring/Modeling, biodiversity, fossile studies, marine biology, benthic marine invertibrates, paleoecology, aquatic ecosystems, biological indicators, community structure

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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