DESCRIBING SOCIAL PALEONTOLOGY FROM AN ECOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
In this study, we investigate the nature of the participants and forms of shared practice that are expressed across the digital habitats of the Project’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the myFOSSIL community site. User interaction data from October 2015 to December 2016 from all three habitats was compiled, linked and analyzed using the methods and tools of social network analysis. Our results establish the numbers and types of paleontologists participating, the ways in which they engage with social paleontology and the relationships among these habits as elements of the larger ecosystem. The use of digital habitats to communicate about and learn paleontology is widely considered yet poorly theoretically constructed; this research serves to further define the learning ecology within social paleontology. The ecological learning perspective allows for empirical measurement of the reach, diversity, and engagement levels within the FOSSIL Project’s digital habitats, providing evidence about the ways paleontologists learn from one another within a Community of Practice.