Spineless Creatures

The reef ecosystem provides the empirical database from which I synthesize patterns and processes affecting reef evolution and demise. I examine reefs that evolved under Cretaceous "greenhouse," Pleistocene "icehouse" and Oligocene transitional climate states, and evaluate biotic changes in the context of the tropical ocean-climate system.

I also have an active program examining modern reefs to ascertain if a biotic replacement will occur as we move rapidly toward a warmer climate state. The ultimate focus of my work is to evaluate the complexity of paleobiologic and paleoecologic factors that combined to allow the reef ecosystem to persist over 600 million years of Earth’s history. With this knowledge, predictions about the future health of our modern reef ecosystem can be made.



Research Sites


My research area is focused in the Caribbean region, and my students and I pursue field investigations in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Barbados. We travel to museums such as the National Museum of Natural History, the Paleontological Research Institute, the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, and the Texas Memorial Museum to acquire specific paleontological specimens for research.

Explore Caribbean Research


My research in the Olduvai Gorge basin focuses on paleotropical environmental reconstructions at the time of evolving lineages of homins. Field seasons in Tanzania concentrate on bivalve taxonomy and paleoecology, and on depositional environments for ˜1 million year-old rocks.

Read about research at Olduvai Gorge

Undergraduate Courses