Animals and their environments have been interacting and modifying one another since life began. I am interested in co-evolution between life and the planet. I work at the interface among palaeontology, sedimentology and behavioural ecology; focussing on organism-substrate interactions and what they can tell us about the make-up of ecosystems through time and their responses to major events in the history of the Earth. These include evolutionary radiations, colonization events and mass extinctions.
The study of organism-sediment interactions is a significant area of research on both a fundamental level, for understanding the evolution of animals and environments; and on an applied level, for delineating past and present habitats and environmental conditions, and providing insights for future challenges to society in predicting the impacts of ongoing environmental and biotic change on ecosystem functions and services.
My research involves field, lab, collections, and database studies. I have studied organism-substrate interactions ranging from half a billion years old through to conducting experiments with living animals, and across deep marine to desert environments. I have been fortunate enough to study world-renowned geological localities, including the Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia, Carboniferous of Atlantic Canada, Permian Robledo Mountains of New Mexico, Triassic Petrified Forest National Park of Arizona, and Cretaceous Dinosaur Coast of Korea.
- The establishment of terrestrial ecosystems
- The Cambrian explosion and ecosystem engineering
- Refinement of ichnofacies models and palaeoenvironmental analysis
- Novel experimental methods and laboratory analysis of organism-substrate interactions
- Benthic-pelagic coupling and ecosystem functioning through time and space
- Bioturbation in submarine canyon systems