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Modelling Feeding Strategies of Ediacaran Biota

on . Posted in SoftRock Forum

SoftRock Forum: Emily Mitchell of the University of Cambridge, UK, Friday, September 24th 2010, 4pm, Grad Lounge ER-4065.

Emily is a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge, UK, and is visiting Newfoundland as part of her research project.


Modelling Feeding Strategies of Ediacaran Biota:

The Ediacara biota are the first documented complex, macroscopic organisms on Earth. They have few similarities with modern organisms, making the ecology very difficult to assess. In order to investigate possible feeding strategies, nutrient requirements and autecologies for these organisms, I present an ecological network model for a middle Ediacaran (575-560 Ma) Avalon-type biota.

The model consists of the 12 most dominant Ediacaran species from the Avalon assemblage, microbial mats, planktonic microbes and nutrients. Fossil abundance, body size data and life history data for planktonic microbes was input into Lotka–Volterra type differential equations to describe the ecosystem dynamics. Stability of the ecosystem was derived using eigenvalues of the Jacobian community matrix and analysed in terms of feedback loops.

Osmotrophy, suspension feeding, chemosynthetic and photosynthetic strategies for the 12 Ediacaran species were considered, with each strategy having different life history traits and interspecies interactions.
It was found that the majority of non-microbe biomass must feed osmotrophically, because there is not enough energy in the system to support a large biomass of suspension feeders. Metazoans have never exhibited large scale multicellular osmotrophy, supporting the theory that Ediacaran organisms were not the precursors to modern life.

Pooping sea cucumbers

on . Posted in Latest News

Some new aliens in the lab....


A new honours student project to be undertaken by Marina Jourey is to focus on the effects of sea cucumbers (properly known as holothurians and a relative of the more familiar starfish and sea urchins) on sediment biogeochemistry, especially mineralogy.

These poor little chaps (about 10cm long) were taken from the holding tanks the the Ocean Sciences Centre to start a new life among geologists.  These ?Orange Footed Sea Cucumbers normally live attached to rocks offshore Newfoundland.  We are awaiting a taxonomic verdict from our ichnofriend Suzanne Dufour.

IMG 0937

Moving to the earth science department was a little bit of an adventure for them as the chiller malfunctioned and created 10cm of ice on the surface of the tank.

IIA Grants for students to attend Ichnia

on . Posted in Latest News

The IIA is offering travel grants for students to attend ICHNIA 2012



ICHNIA 2012 - Third International Ichnological Congress 

Newfoundland, 11-23 August 2012


The International Ichnological Association is offering travel grants for students to attend to the forthcoming Third International Ichnological Congress ICHNIA 2012 to be held in the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada in August 11-23.