Work package 2

Work package 2

Work package 2: Quaternary turnover  

The general goal of WP2 is to reconstruct spatial and temporal dimensions of past biotic change in the Pontocaspian system and to constrain its drivers. We combine sedimentary, palaeontological and phylogentic approaches.

Based on a combination of palaeoenvironmental, palaeontological and time-calibrated phylogenetic data, we specifically aim to (1) identify periods and areas of faunal turnover in key taxa, the palaeoenvironmental context and the underlying drivers, (2) document and understand faunal recovery after disturbance episodes (e.g. natural resilience), and (3) test the role of surrounding areas (Balkans, Anatolia) as potential sinks and/or sources for the maintenance and evolution of Pontocaspian biota. The same three time intervals as in WP1 will be targeted.

This c 1.8 Ma old fauna from Guria, Georgia, constitutes a centre of Pontocaspian biodiversity. Taxonomic documentation is a first step in uncovering the evolution of the fauna. The palaeoenvironmental context of such faunas is required to understand drivers of faunal change.

The most important outcomes of WP2 are ((1) the concerted documentation of faunal successions in various geological time slices in the area and their depositional/geochemical context, (2) a geological data platform that will run in conjunction with the taxonomy data platform of WP3, and (3) a phylogenetic-based diversity chronogram (including fossil occurrence of taxa) for selected model groups to show timing and ancestral areas of diversification.

Work package 2 is lead by >Dr Frank Wesselingh from Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden.

The five projects in work package 2 cover geology, palaeontology and molecular biology. Projects B1 (Naturalis, Leiden) and B2 (Bucharest University) document Quaternary faunal successions in the core Pontocaspian area and B3 (Giessen University) in the satellite areas. The environmental context of faunal successions is provided through project B5 (Utrecht University) using sedimentology, taphonomy and isotope geochemistry. Project B4 (Giessen University) is a molecular approach that will independently investigate the timing of past evolutionary events using DNA information from extant taxa.