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Dr. Carrie L. Tyler
Assistant Professor
Miami University of Ohio

  • Processes driving changes in ecosystem structure and functioning
  • Processes governing the distribution, paleoecology, and evolution of marine invertebrates
  • The fidelity of the fossil record
  • The application and development of quantitative paleontological methods
  • Macroscale evolutionary patterns and changes in ecosystem structure through geologic time
  • Morphometrics and functional morphology of marine invertebrates


Were Cretaceous ecosystems more complex or stable than Jurassic Ecosystems?

Predator-prey interactions affect modern ecosystem dynamics with important consequences, and predation is perhaps the most intensely studied biotic interaction in the fossil record. The importance of biotic interactions such as predation on macroevolutionary timescales, however, remains controversial. The examination of ancient food webs presents an opportunity to understand the mechanisms controlling community structure, and determine whether trophic organization has changed through time.

Late Cretaceous marine food web from the paleo-Tethys


Tyler, C.L., Kempf, H.L. Kempf, Dineen, A.A., Roopnarine, P.D. 2017. Functional homogenization and destabilization during an ancient marine invasion: Using food webs to examine invasion dynamics. Ecological Society of America Abstracts with Programs.

Kowalewski, M., Tyler, C.L., 2017. Mollusks as archives of spatial biodiversity patterns in marine benthic communities: An example from coastal North Carolina, USA. GSA Abstracts with Programs. 

Tyler. C.L., Kowalewski, M. Fossils Track Spatial Biodiversity Patters in Marine Benthic Communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Published online March 1st, 2017).

Surrogate taxa and fossils as reliable proxies of spatial biodiversity patterns in marine benthic communities 

Recent study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.2839. Funding from the National Science Foundation helped support this research, which was featured in an article by the University of Floridahttps://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/science/mollusk-graveyards-are-time-machines-to-oceans-pristine-past/

To assess marine community response to environmental and anthropogenic change, we must understand spatial heterogeneity in present-day and preindustrial ecosystems. As previous studies predominantly utilize single higher taxa, here we evaluate the validity of using single taxa, such as mollusks, as surrogates for entire marine invertebrate communities and as paleontological proxies. Results suggests that single groups can serve as reliable community proxies, and that spatial fidelity of death assemblages is high. Therefore, integrated analyses of ecological and paleontological data utilizing surrogate taxa can quantify anthropogenic changes in marine ecosystems and advance our understanding of spatial and temporal aspects of biodiversity.


Dr. Tyler featured by the Miami University's Office of the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, read the article here

Predators often leave distinct marks on prey skeletons, including tooth marks, fractures, scars, and drill holes. Fossils that contain those distinct marks can be used to explore the role of predation over the span of millions of years. To date, research on the fossil record of predation has centered mainly on mollusks: snails, clams, and their relatives. The proposed project will expand the history of predation beyond mollusks, and assess the impact of predation on sea urchins, sand dollars, and other echinoids. Echinoids are a commercially important group of animals and a major food source for many marine predators. This project aims to develop a global reference system for identifying traces left by predators on echinoid prey, which is expected to stimulate echinoid research on both modern and ancient ecosystems. Once assembled, the database will then be used to study the impact of predators on the evolution of echinoids over the last 100 million years, during which, they have diversified and become a critical part of the marine biosphere.

Neontological museum collections in conjunction with the literature will be used to codify trace characteristics of various types of interactions (predation, parasitism, commensalism, etc.) that affect modern echinoids. The resultant database will include data on the identity/ecology of trace makers, identity/ecology/phylogeny of affected echinoids, and morphology, frequency, and distribution of traces. The database will then be used to explore the fossil record, and evaluate hypotheses regarding the relative evolutionary importance of select types of biotic interactions affecting the ecology and evolutionary history of echinoids.

Dr. Tyler's research featured in the Deep Sea News! Take a look a the article "Celebrity Wax Sculptures for Snails"

Read the original paper published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom "The Utility of Wax Replicas as a Measure of Crab Attack Frequency in the Rocky Intertidal"