Stanford University School of Earth Sciences
Jonathan L. Payne | Paleobiology


GES 4 - Evolution and Extinction: An Introduction to Historical Geology

An introduction to Earth’s history using the end-Cretaceous mass extinction as a focal example. The first half of the course will address principles of stratigraphy, correlation, the geological timescale, the history of biodiversity, and the biological interpretation of fossils. The second half of the course will focus on the cause(s) of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction and the use of data from sedimentary geology, geochemistry, and paleontology to test theories proposed to explain the mass extinction event. The course will conclude with examination of other mass extinction events in the history of animal life. Two half-day field trips. Syllabus for 2010. Next offered winter 2012.

GES 123 - Invertebrate Paleobiology

An introduction to the fossil record with emphasis on marine invertebrates. Lectures will address major debates in paleontological research and also survey the history of animal life in the oceans. Topics will include the nature of the fossil record, evolutionary radiations, mass extinctions, and the relationship between biological evolution and environmental change. Labs will survey important fossil taxa through time and will include exercises in phylogenetics, paleoecology, biostratigraphy, and basic statistical methods. Offered alternate years. Next offered 2008-2009. Syllabus for 2009. Photos from 2007 class fieldtrip to Pillar Point. Next offered Spring 2011.

GES 214 - Topics in Paleobiology

A discussion seminar for graduate students. Advanced undergraduate students should contact the instructor to discuss participation. Topics vary from year to year, but focus on the relationship between geological and evolutionary processes. Particular focus will be on intervals of rapid environmental change and associated evolutionary patterns, feedbacks between biological and environmental change, and the influence of the rock record on perceived evolutionary patterns. Term paper required. May be repeated for credit. Offered occasionally.


2007 (fall) - Biodiversity Dynamics in the Fossil Record

2006 (spring) - Biodiversity and Mass Extinctions 

GES 254 - Carbonate Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

Processes of precipitation and sedimentation of carbonate minerals with strong emphasis on marine systems. Topics will include: the geographic and bathymetric distribution of carbonates in modern and ancient oceans; the genesis and environmental significance of carbonate grains and sedimentary textures; carbonate rocks and sediments as sources of geochemical proxy data; carbonate diagenesis; changes in styles of carbonate deposition through Earth History; carbonate depositional patterns and the global carbon cycle. Laboratory exercises will emphasize the petrographic and geochemical analysis of carbonate rocks from map and outcrop scale, to hand samples, polished slabs, and thin sections. Offered alternate years. Last offered Spring 2010. Syllabus.

GES 256 - Quantitative Paleobiology

Introduction to statistical methods relevant to the analysis of paleobiological data. Methods include principles of inference, linear and logistic regression, principal components analysis, time-series, and re-sampling methods. Paleobiological problems include assessment of spatial and temporal patterns in biodiversity, selectivity of extinction and origination, and evolutionary trends. Readings, examples, and problems from the primary literature. Term paper. Prerequisite: Previous course in paleobiology or permission of the instructor. Syllabus for Winter 2010. Offered occasionally.

GES 277 - Flood Basalts and Mass Extinctions

Recent work in geochronology and paleobiology increasingly supports the temporal coincidence of the eruption of continental flood basalts with mass extinction in the marine and terrestrial realms. During this course students will read and discuss recent primary literature addressing the mechanisms and timescale of flood basalt eruptions, their likely environmental and biological consequences, and the evidence for flood basalt eruptions as the triggers of many mass extinction events. Syllabus for Fall 2008. Offered occasionally.

GES 325 (also BIOSCI 325) - The Evolution of Body Size (co-taught with Liz Hadly)

A discussion seminar for upper division undergraduates and graduate students. An investigation of evolutionary patterns and processes viewed through observations of organism size. Focus will be on integration of theoretical principles, observations of living organisms, and data from the fossil record. What are the physiological and ecological correlates of body size? Is there an optimum size? Do organisms tend to evolve to larger size? Does productivity control the size distribution of consumers? Does size affect the likelihood of extinction or speciation? Term paper required. Offered occasionally. Last offered fall 2006. Syllabus for 2006.

GES 328 - Paleobiology Seminar Series

A seminar series covering topics in the field of paleobiology. The seminar series will consist of talks by visiting speakers. Speakers, titles, and abstracts: 2007, 2008







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