Projects revolve around understanding how large-scale changes in the environment affect evolution, biogeography, and biodiversity patterns of mammals. I use the fossil record as a natural laboratory to assess the ecological changes that will occur as a result of ongoing global change, particularly global warming.
Lab analyses include systematic and taxonomic studies of various small-mammal groups (predominantly rodents), as well as developing and analyzing large-scale paleontologic databases required to understand interactions between biota and physical-environmental changes (i.e. species distributions, climatic parameters, physiographic features). Field aspects of the work include collecting fossils from long stratigraphic sequences that can be well-dated by biostratigraphic, radioisotopic, or paleomagnetic techniques.
Ongoing projects include:
1. Biodiversity of mammals through time, with the goal of assessing the 'natural' baseline of mammalian diversity and how that already has been affected by human impacts, and how it is likely to be affected in the future. See the MIOMAP home page for an overview of what our lab is doing on this topic.
2. Collaborative work (with Liz Hadly and others) on California vertebrate biodiversity through time, particularly as regards effects of megafaunal extinction and global warming,
3. Collaborative work with South American colleagues and graduate students to better define the timing and causes of Quaternary megafaunal extinctions.
4. Assessing the impacts of global warming on the global ecosystem and seeking solutions to saving the three faces of nature that people commonly perceive: ecosystem services, particular species assemblages, and the idea of wilderness). (See the new book Heatstroke: Nature in the Age of Global Warming, Island Press).