PhD topic: Reconstructing the evolution of Eocene ecosystems in southern Eurasia to better understand past mammalian dispersals
The late Eocene and early Oligocene are paced by multiple dispersal events of Asian mammals to Europe, Africa, up to south America, including anthropoid primates. However, the mechanisms controlling these dispersals are poorly understood.
Anthropoid primates are tropical arboreal mammals; many other mammals involved in these dispersals used to thrive in the tropics. Their dynamics of expansion must thus have closely mimicked the spreading of tropical forested ecosystems. This PhD project proposes to reconstruct the dynamics of forested ecosystems along the Paleogene Neotethyan shorelines in southern Eurasia, the most likely dispersal pathway for Asian mammals to reach Europe and Africa.
The PhD student will use paleobotanical proxies to study the type and evolution of forested ecosystems and document their changes through time and space. The study sites are spread along the Neotethyan shorelines, with a particular focus on Anatolian and central Asian localities, where paleobotanical data are lacking.
Forested ecosystems will be reconstructed using complementary paleobotanical approaches: palynology and paleoecology (i.e. the study of past vegetation composition by means of pollen and spores) and paleoxylology (the study of fossil wood anatomy). Both approaches allow a detailed reconstruction of forested assemblages and qualitative/semi-quantitative insights into the local climate (rainfall seasonality, aridity).
The PhD student will be work at the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle (CR2P laboratory) in Paris (advisor: Anaïs Boura) and at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) in Amsterdam (advisor: Carina Hoorn). She/he will join a team of students, postdocs and scientists in the framework of the ERC project DISPERSAL led by Alexis Licht (CEREGE), which aims to build a theoretical and empirical basis for the mechanisms of large-scale continental dispersal. Paleobotanical results of the PhD project will be compared and interpreted with paleoclimatic and paleontological data acquired by other members of the ERC team.
Starting date: Fall 2023.
Funding: 3 years, from ERC DISPERSAL
Anaïs Boura, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carina Hoorn, email@example.com
Alexis Licht, firstname.lastname@example.org