Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Steffen Kiel, Ph.D.

University of Göttingen

A deep-time perspective on the evolution
of deep-sea chemosynthetic ecosystems

Wednesday — September 21, 2011
Pacific Forum — 3:00 p.m.

Hydrothermal vents and methane seeps in the deep sea harbor unique ecosystems dominated by animals relying on geochemical energy sources, mainly sulfides and methane, rather than photosynthesis, as used by earth surface ecosystems. Due to the extreme environments they inhabit and their in situ food source, the adaptational pathways, origin, and evolutionary history of these faunas are the matter of controversial debates. The fossil record provides direct evidence for the history of these faunas and recent paleontologic work has improved the dating of the origin of many of the modern groups that inhabit these ecosystems. And not only that; it shows that Paleozoic and Mesozoic seeps were dominated by giant brachiopods with as-yet unclear lifestyles, what types of substrates the bone-eating worm Osedax colonized in the past, and the geologic record might even provide insights into the causes of major evolutionary events in the history of chemosynthetic ecosystems.

Next: October 5 — Gregory Dudek, PhD

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