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Speaker Series Semester Darwin Day 2016

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“Tiny Engines of Evolution: Phytoplankton and the Fossil Record of Marine Biodiversity”“Tiny Engines of Evolution: Phytoplankton and the Fossil Record of Marine Biodiversity”<img alt="" src="/darwin-day-sub-site/PublishingImages/Darwin%20Day%202016/Ron_Martin.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​Ron Martin, Professor of Geological Sciences</p>2016-02-11T05:00:00Z<p>​Abstract: The quantity and, especially, quality of food were critical to marine biodiversification. During the Meso-Cenozoic eras, rising oxygen levels, continued nutrient input from land into shallow seaways, and increasing rates of bioturbation (and nutrient recycling) all enhanced nutrient availability, increasing the macro- and micro- (trace element) nutrient content of phytoplankton. Consequently, marine metazoans had to expend less energy to “burn off” (respire) excess carbon to obtain inorganic nutrients necessary for growth, leaving more energy available for reproduction and, potentially, micro- and macroevolution. By contrast, the absence of well-developed terrestrial floras (and presumably decreased weathering rates) and low bioturbation rates may have limited nutrient availability during the early-to-middle Paleozoic Era. Diversification of early-to-middle Paleozoic metazoans would have been limited by having to expend energy to “burn off” the excess carbon of more nutrient-poor phytoplankton. Limited nutrient availability may have delayed the appearance of more advanced and “energetic” taxa such as advanced carnivores until the later Paleozoic, when widespread mountain building, falling sea level, the spread of forests and greater weathering rates, enhanced ocean circulation resulting from glaciation, oxygenation, and upwelling all combined to increase nutrient availability in the photic zone. Bio: Professor Martin investigates the formation and preservation of fossil assemblages on different scales of time, ranging from the modern to very ancient. He received a Ph.D. in protozoology from the University of California at Berkeley and then worked as a micropaleontologist and industrial biostratigrapher for Unocal in Houston, where he examined microfossils in well cuttings and “sat” drilling rigs to prevent blowouts (like those of the TransOcean rig). He came to the University of Delaware in 1985, where he is now Professor of Geological Sciences. He has served as Editor of the Journal of Foraminiferal Research , Associate Editor of Palaios, and as President of the North American Micropaleontology section (NAMS) of the Society for Sedimentary Geology. The first edition of his textbook, Earth’s Evolving Systems: The History of Planet Earth, was published by Jones and Bartlett in February, 2012, and a second edition is in preparation. His talk is partly based upon his 2013 cover article of Scientific American.</p>

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