The main goal of this group is a novel topic in paleobiology, the study of the evolution of mammalian life-histories under changing ecological conditions, under the deep-time perspective that only palaeontology can provide. The results are expected to yield detailed information about the responses in life history traits to changing climatic and environmental conditions.
The group aims to unravel the cascade of causal relationship between ecological factors triggered by past climate changes, and their impact on life history and demographic traits that determine extinction / survival patterns. Because of the subject, the approach is broad and transdiciplinary, including amongst others evolutionary biology, physiological ecology, population demography, conservation management, and aspects of ageing (gerontology).
The tools of these studies are paleohistological techniques to analyse hard tissues of extant and extinct mammals, as well as to experimentally test the correlation of certain key life history traits, physiological data (metabolic rate or heart rate, body core temperatures), and endocrinological data (hormones) with bone tissue traits (Lines of arrested growth, vascularization, osteocyte densities).
The demographic information obtained from bone histology, from Eocene through Holocene, will be contrasted with data on the climatic and the faunistic evolution in a chronostratigraphic context.
Head of Department: Dra. Meike Köhler (ICREA)