Prof. em. Hans R. Thierstein
NO G 49
Phone: +41 44 632 36 66
Fax: +41 44 632 10 80
Microfossils are, because of their abundance, wide distribution, good preservation and accurate geological age assignment, uniquely suited for many economic and scientific applications in biostratigraphy, paleoecology and paleoceanography. Paleontology in general is moving towards integrated Earth System Science, whose goal it is to better understand the interrelationship of abiotic and biotic processes and their variability during the history of our planet. Rapid advances in our ability and understanding of physical and chemical aspects of current and past global change would profit from similar advances in our ability to reconstruct changes of the biosphere.
A vastly expanded database on the quantitative, temporal and paleogeographic distribution, and on the size and shape changes that have occurred in microfossils, most of which lived at the base of the food chain, promise to provide essential information on the evolution of the biosphere. Towards this goal and to preserve a vanishing expertise, we are developing, testing and applying automated techniques in microscopy, image analysis, morphometry and artificial neural network classification. Emerging results allow us on one hand generalizations of macro-ecological and macro-evolutionary size variability of planktic organisms and on the other to link size and shape variability of hard parts with the genetic variability of living species populations.
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