A focus of our research is the Cambrian "explosion," arguably the greatest transition in the history of life, a better appreciation of which will improve our understanding of the broader aspects of the evolutionary process. Our approach involves novel interrogation of the early fossil record combined with leading-edge phylogenetic and morphometric techniques, and recognition of the powerful interplay between biological and planetary evolution. We are also a major centre for vertebrate palaeontology, again integrating biology (e.g. functional biology) and geology (e.g. plate tectonics and palaeobiogeography).
Community Structure, Evolution and Organismal Interaction
- The early evolution of eukaryotes, multicellularity and heterotrophy, particularly as they relate to ecological expansion through the Proterozoic and early Cambrian.
- ‘Ecosystem engineering' feedback effects of biological evolution.
- Ediacaran and Cambrian (especially Burgess Shale-type) faunas.
- The evolution and palaeobiology of archosaurian reptiles.
- Predator-prey interactions in marine communities.
- Systematics and phylogeny of trilobites, early arthropods and ecdysozoans.
- Recent and fossil bivalves with an eye to reconstructing their evolutionary history.
- The mechanisms and palaeobiological implications of exceptional fossil preservation.
- The development of combined phylogenetic and palaeobiogeographic techniques.
- Convergence and contingency in biological evolution.
We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in geology, zoology, biology and, when appropriate, physics or biomathematics.