Documenting Fossil Marine Invertebrate Communities of the Eastern Pacific - Faunal Responses to Environmental Change over the last 66 million years

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Digitization TCN: Documenting Fossil Marine Invertebrate Communities of the Eastern Pacific - Faunal Responses to Environmental Change over the last 66 million years​

Project Summary

Fossils provide our only direct evidence of past biodiversity and how individual organisms to ecosystems have responded to past and long-term environmental change. This project fills a major gap in the documentation of past environmental change, making available digitized data from the especially rich fossil record of the eastern Pacific marine invertebrate communities of the Cenozoic, the 66 million years that have passed since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Digitization and integration of these data will foster increased accessibility, efficient analysis to understand past change, the identification of factors involved in that change, and enable predictions for how current biodiversity may be impacted by future change. Development of virtual fieldwork experiences will assist stakeholders and educators in understanding how field data and fossil collections are used to infer past ecosystem and environmental conditions.

The data currently exist as a vast collection of fossil specimens and printed materials distributed among multiple natural history collections: this project involves 7 primary institutions, one small collection and one federal institution and will integrate this digitized specimen data with the other two ongoing fossil networks through the web portal iDigPaleo, expanding the resource for fossil invertebrate information by spanning over 500 million years. This wealth of data will provide resources not only to researchers, but will be made available to K-16 educators, government, industry, and the general public. Through the national resource (iDigBio) these data will be integrated with information on modern organisms providing the means to understand important questions on niches, environmental change, transitions in sea levels, etc. Additionally, undergraduate and graduate students will be trained in the modern uses of natural history collections. This award is made as part of the National Resource for Digitization of Biological Collections through the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program and all data resulting from this award will be available through the national resource (


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Project Sponsor:
University of California-Berkeley

Principal Investigators (PIs):
Charles Marshall (Principal Investigator)
Seth Finnegan (Co-Principal Investigator)
Patricia Holroyd (Co-Principal Investigator)
Lisa White (Co-Principal Investigator)

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