The next Irish Geological Association lecture will take place online ad will be presented by Dr William Foster (UCD) on 'The Early Evolution of Modern Marine Ecosystems: Post-Permian Radiation' .
Events at the close of the Permian Period led to the most severe mass extinction of the Phanerozoic. The 'Paleozoic Fauna' suffered most; the surviving groups, more 'modern' in aspect, were those that would seed the post-Permian radiation. This radiation has long been identified as a 'delayed' radiation, being apparently of longer duration than other post-extinction radiations, and there are three main hypotheses to explain the delayed radiation. Groups that radiated into vacant or largely vacated ecospace include the bivalves, which outcompeted brachiopods to dominate benthic habitats; the Scleractinia which replaced the Paleozoic reef-building metazoans; and the reptiles that became top marine predators. Other groups that survived, including those that suffered evolutionary bottlenecks, and re-radiated in the Triassic show major reorganizations in the dominant clades and morphological disparity.
Dr. William Foster is currently an assistant professor of paleobiology at University College Dublin, but at the end of the year he will be moving to the University of Hamburg where he will be building a new research group funded by the German Research Foundation.
He has also previously held postdoc positions at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, University of Texas at Austin, the Natural History Museum, London, and Nagoya University in Japan.
His research focuses on the causes and consequences of mass extinctions on the evolution of life, with a special focus on the end-Permian mass extinction. Principally, he focuses on paleontological methods, but actively utilises 'big data', machine learning algorithms, and statistics in his research – whilst also collaborating with other disciplines such as geochemistry and sedimentology.