GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 209-1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM


CERLING, Thure, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112,

My work in reconstructing environments and diets from hominin sites in Africa and in understanding atmospheric CO2 levels in the Cenozoic and Mesozoic required an understanding of both modern analogies in ecology and of how modern ecological processes might be preserved in deep geological time. Given the different perspectives between the different sciences, such as geology and biology, it can only help to have cross-fertilization of ideas and methods across disciplines.

The stable isotope ecology course my colleague Jim Ehleringer and I initiated at the University of Utah’s Stable Isotope Research Facility for Environmental Research (SIRFER) was our joint effort to encourage both short and long term sharing of ideas and methods across our disciplines as we explored the use of stable isotopes in ecology and paleoecology. For more than twenty years our “IsoCamp” has brought together individuals from geology, anthropology, zoology, botany, forensics, oceanography, paleontology, archaeology, agriculture, and ecology for an intensive training program. Each June, more than 40 students and 15 faculty members gather at the University of Utah to spend time in lectures, labs, and field exercises designed to give participants a broad sense not only of the fields of ecology and paleoecology, but of the insights that stable isotopes – along with active collaborative processes – can bring to both disciplines.