75595 - Stratigraphics Palaeoecology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Climate Action Oceans

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The course will focus on marine macrobenthic fossils to link stratigraphic and paleobiologic patterns and processes. The distribution of taxa in time and space is controlled not only by ecological and evolutionary processes (e.g., taxa environmental niches, extinctions/originations), but also by sedimentary processes that govern where and when fossil-containing sediments are deposited and preserved. Stratigraphic, taphonomic and ecologic attributes of fossil assemblages can be potentially useful for detecting biological trends, environmental shifts and climate variability through time and space, correcting stratigraphic biases that affect the fossil record, or enhance sequence stratigraphic interpretations.

Course contents

  • Introduction to Stratigraphic Paleoecology.

  • The nature of a sample and the stratigraphic framework.

  • Environmental controls on the distribution of species.

  • Stratigraphic controls on fossil occurrences.

  • Paleoecology, biodiversity, ecosystem change through time.

  • Field trips and paleoecologic inferences directly in the field.

  • Quaternary climate changes and implications for the marine fossil record: Case studies.
  • Mollusk key-taxa for paleoenvironmental inferences.


Patzkowsky ME, Holland SM. Stratigraphic Paleobiology: understanding the distribution of fossil taxa in time and space. The University of Chicago Press, 259 pp.

Teaching methods

Lectures; laboratory exercises and field trips.

Assessment methods

The written exam is based upon a multiple-choice and open questions.

Teaching tools

Projector; PC; blackboard; Microscope; Fossil collection.

Office hours

See the website of Daniele Scarponi