Coccolithophoridae play a major role in the marine primary production, CO2-O2 exchange, and carbonate sequestration. They form the basis for the entire oceanic food web as well as the oceanic carbon pump and ocean-atmosphere-interaction via calcite-precipitation. Coccolithophoridae reacted pointedly to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, with a significant reduction in their biomass and associated impact on the oceanic system. While studies suggest that Coccolithophoridae bioproduction is strongly influenced by environmental change, no studies have yet systematically evaluated the impact of persistent environmental change like the current climate change scenarios on their evolutionary adaptation. An unforeseen disturbance in their assemblage or bioproduction could have cascading effects through the entire oceanic food chain and impact the CO2- and O2-budget of the oceans. This project will use natural experiments of past environmental changes to investigate the adaptive processes within the Coccolithophoridae and predict future changes to their assemblage structure and bioproduction. Detailed morphological analyses together with assemblage and population dynamics studies will form the basis for ecological and evolutionary modelling. Extensive experience in nannopaleontological laboratory work, morphometric techniques, and ecological and evolutionary modelling in R will be developed by the applicant. Specifies of the project can be adapted to the candidate’s personal interests.

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