Cynthia Looy

Cynthia Looy

Assistant Professor

Phone: (510) 642-1607
Lab Webpage:

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Research Description

Cindy describes herself as "a plant ecologist who works in the past" and studies the response of plants and their communities to major environmental change and the possible evolutionary consequences. Her primary research is focused on the end-Permian biotic crisis and its aftermath, and the transition from a glacial-dominated world to an ice-free one during the Late Carboniferous to the Middle Permian.  

Selected Publications

Gastaldo RA, Kamo SL, Neveling J, Geissman JW, Bamford M and Looy CV, 2015. The vertebrate-defined Permian–Triassic Boundary in the Karoo Basin, South Africa, probably isn’t the terrestrial expression of the End Permian marine event. Geology [doi:10.1130/G37040.1].

Falcon-Lang HJ, Lucas SG, Kerp H, Krainer K, Montañez IP, Vachard D, Chaney DS, Elrick SD, Contreras DL, Kurzawe F, DiMichele WA, Looy CV, 2015. Early Permian (Asselian) vegetation from a seasonally dry coast in western equatorial Pangaea: Paleoecology and evolutionary significance. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 433: 158-173.

Stevenson R, Evangelista D and Looy CV, 2015. When conifers took flight: a biomechanical evaluation of an imperfect evolutionary takeoff. Paleobiology 41: 205-225.

Sephton MA, Jiao D, Engel MH, Looy CV and Visscher H, 2015. Terrestrial acidification during the end-Permian biosphere crisis? Geology 43: 159-162.

Looy CV, Kerp H, Duijnstee IAP and DiMichele WA, 2014. The late Paleozoic ecological-evolutionary laboratory, a land-plant fossil record perspective. The Sedimentary Record 12 (4): 4-10.

Looy CV and Hotton CL, 2014. Spatiotemporal relationships among Late Pennsylvanian plant assemblages: paleobotanical evidence from the Markley Formation, West Texas, USA. Review of Paleobotany and Palynology 211: 10-27.

Looy CV, van Hoof TB, Stevenson RA and Mander L, 2014. Evidence for coal forest refugia in the seasonally dry Pennsylvanian tropical lowlands of the Illinois Basin, USA. PeerJ 2: e630.

Blois JL, Gotelli NJ, Behrensmeyer AK, Faith JT, Lyons SK, William SJW, Amatangelo KL, Bercovici A, Du A, Eronen JT, Graves GR, Jud N, Labandeira CC, Looy CV, McGill B, Patterson D, Potts R, Riddle B, Terry R, Tóth A, Villaseñor and Wing SL, 2014. A framework for evaluating the influence of climate, dispersal limitation, and biotic interactions using fossil pollen associations across the late Quaternary. Ecography 37: 1095-1108.

Looy CV and Stevenson R, 2014. Earliest occurrence of autorotating seeds in conifers: the mid-Permian (Kungurian-Wordian) Manifera talaris sp. nov. International Journal of Plant Sciences 75: 841-854.

Looy CV and Duijnstee IAP, 2013. Characterizing morphologic variability in foliated Paleozoic conifer branches – a first step in testing its potential as proxy for taxonomic position. In: Lucas SG, et al. (eds), The Carboniferous-Permian transition. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 60: 215-223.

Looy CV, 2013. Natural history of a plant trait: branch system abscission in Paleozoic conifers and its environmental, autecological and ecosystem implications in a fire-prone world. Paleobiology 39: 235-252.

Tabor NJ, Romanchock CM, Looy CV, Hotton C, DiMichele WA and Chaney DS, 2013. Biome dynamics and niche-conservatism of Late Pennsylvanian vegetation in western equatorial Pangaea In: Gąsiewicz, A and Słowakiewicz M (eds), Late Palaeozoic climate cycles: their evolutionary, sedimentological and economic impact. Journal of the Geological Society of London Special Publication 376: 201-234.

Visscher H, Sephton MA and Looy CV, 2011. Fungal virulence at the time of the end-Permian biosphere crisis? Geology 39: 883-886.

DiMichele WA, Looy CV and Chaney DS, 2011. A new genus of Gigantopterid from the Middle Permian of the United States and China and its relevance to the Gigantopterid concept. International Journal of Plant sciences 172: 107-119.

Prevec R, Gastaldo RA, Neveling J, Reid SB and Looy CV, 2010. An autochthonous glossopterid flora with latest Permian palynomorphs and its depositional setting in the Dicynodon Assemblage Zone of the southern Karoo Basin, South Africa. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 292: 391-408.

Falcon-Lang HJ, Nelson WJ, Elrick S, Looy CV, Ames PA and DiMichele WA, 2009. Incised channel fills containing conifers indicate that seasonally dry vegetation dominated Pennsylvanian tropical lowlands Geology 37: 923-926.

Sephton MA, Visscher H, Looy CV, Verchovsky AB and Watson JS, 2009. Chemical consititution of a Permian-Triassic disaster species. Geology 37: 875-878.

Prevec R, Labandeira CC, Neveling J, Looy CV, Bamford MK, Sims HJ and Gastaldo RA, 2009. Portrait of a Gondwanan ecosystem: a new Permian locality from Kwazulu-Natal, South AfricA Review of Paleobotany and Palynology 156: 454-493.

Bennington JB, DiMichele B, Badgley C, Bambach RK, Barrett PM, Behrensmeyer AK, Bobe R, Burnham RJ, Daeschler EB, van Dam J, Eronen JT, Erwin DH, Finnegan S, Holland SM, Hunt G, Jablonki S, Jackson ST, Jacobs BF, Kidwell SM, Koch PL, Kowaleski MJ, Labandeira CC, Looy CV, Lyons K, Novack-Gottshall PM, Potts R, Roopnarine PD, Strömberg CAE, Sues HD, Wagner PJ, Wilf P and Wing SL, 2009. Critical issues of scale in paleoecology. Palaios 24: 1-4.

DiMichele WA, Tabor NJ, Kerp JHF and Looy CV, 2008. Revisiting the so-called "Paleophytic-Mesophytic" transition in equatorial Pangea: vegetational integrity and climatic tracking. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 268: 152-163.

Fenton S, Grice K, Twitchett RJ, Böttcher M, Looy CV and Nabbefield B, 2007. Changes in biomarker abundances and their stable carbon isotopes across the Permian-Triassic Schuchert Dal Section (East Greenland). Earth and Planetary Science Letters 262: 230-239.

Looy CV, 2007. Extending the range of derived Late Paleozoic conifers: Lebowskia gen. nov. (Majonicaceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 168: 57-972.

Grice K, Twitchett RJ, Foster CB, Alexander R and Looy CV, 2005. A biomarker index for the Permian-Triassic ecological crisis. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 236: 315-321.

Looy CV, Collinson ME, Van Konijnenburg-Van Cittert JHA and Visscher, H, 2005. The ultrastructure and botanical affinity of end-Permian spore tetrads. International Journal of Plant Sciences 166: 875-887.

Sephton MA, Looy CV, Brinkhuis H, Wignall, PW, De Leeuw JW, and Visscher H, 2005. Catastrophic soil erosion during the end-Permian biotic crisis. Geology 33: 941-944.

Visscher H, Looy CV, Collinson ME, Brinkhuis H, Van Konijnenburg-Van Cittert JHA, Kürschner WM and Sephton MA, 2004. Environmental mutagenesis during the end-Permian ecological crisis. Proceedings National Academy of Science, USA 101: 12952-12956.

De Wit MJ, Ghosh JG, De Villiers S, Rakotosolofo N, Alexander J, Tripathi A and Looy CV, 2002. Multiple organic carbon isotope reversals across the Permo-Triassic boundary of terrestrial Gondwana sequences: clues to extinction patterns and delayed ecosystem recovery. Journal of Geology 110: 227-246.

Sephton MA, Looy CV, Veefkind RJ, Visscher H, Brinkhuis H and De Leeuw JW, 2002. Synchronous record of δ13C shifts in the oceans and atmosphere at the end of the Permian. Geological Society of America Special Paper 356: 455-462.

Looy CV, Twitchett RJ, Dilcher DL, Van Konijnenburg-Van Cittert JHA and Visscher H, 2001. Life in the end-Permian dead zone. Proceedings National Academy of Science, USA 98: 7879-7883.

Twitchett RJ, Looy CV, Morante R, Visscher H and Wignall PB, 2001. Rapid and synchronous collapse of marine and terrestrial ecosystems during the end-Permian mass extinction event. Geology 29: 351-354.

Looy CV, Brugman WA, Dilcher DL and Visscher H, 1999. The delayed resurgence of forests after the Permian-Triassic ecologic crisis. Proceedings National Academy of Science, USA 96: 13857-13862.   

Poort R, Clement-Westerhof JA, Looy CV and Visscher H, 1997. Conifer extinction in Europe at the Permian-Triassic junction: morphology, ultrastructure and geographic-stratigraphic distribution of Nuskoisporites dulhuntyi (prepollen of Ortiseia, Walchiaceae). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 97: 9-39.   

Visscher H, Brinkhuis H, Dilcher DL, Elsik WC, Eshet Y., Looy CV, Rampino MR and Traverse A, 1996. The terminal Palaeozoic fungal event: evidence of terrestrial ecosystem destabilization and collapse. Proceedings National Academy of Science, USA 93: 2155-2158.