USC Paleontology and Paleoecology

University of Southern California
Department of Earth Sciences
ZHS 117
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0740



Background and Research Interests

I was born in New York City and spent my youth in the northeastern USA. I attended Haverford College outside of Philadelphia (where I majored in Geology at neighboring Bryn Mawr College), and received an M.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a Ph.D. from Indiana University. My dissertation was on benthic paleoecology and sedimentology of Upper Cretaceous chalk in southwestern Arkansas. After leaving Indiana I spent a post-doctoral year with the United States Geological Survey at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., doing more work on Upper Cretaceous chalk throughout the Gulf Coast region of the USA. I began as assistant professor at the University of Southern California in 1979, where I have been ever since. 

I am a marine paleoecologist and paleoenvironmentalist and have worked broadly on organism-sediment interactions and the ecological history of life. Upon arrival in southern California I spent much of the 1980's extending my already-formed Cretaceous interests through work on paleoecology and sedimentology of California and Baja California (Mexico) Upper Cretaceous strata. Research was also started then on the paleoecology and paleoenvironments of modern and ancient black shale deposits, spurred by the adjacent California Borderland modern anoxic basins. In addition, at this time, I began studies of the paleoecology of early metazoan life, being drawn, like many others, to the excellent lower Paleozoic outcrops in eastern California. 

In the 1990's I started working on the paleoecology of the recovery from the end-Permian mass extinction, with extensive work on Lower Triassic strata throughout the western USA. This work has continued during the past decade, so that my present research emphasis concentrates on both "the beginning of the Mesozoic" as well as "the beginning of the Paleozoic". These research interests, which have typically been initiated through studies of rocks and fossils in California and adjacent states, have subsequently taken me to field work in Europe and Asia. 

I was Editor of the SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology) journal PALAIOS from 1989 to 1995. I am a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and have been President of the SEPM Pacific Section as well as the Paleontological Society. During the first half of 2000 I was on sabbatical at the University of California, Los Angeles as a Senior Fellow in Bill Schopf's Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life (CSEOL). In September, 2000 I became Editor-in-Chief of the Elsevier journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (PALAEO-3). For the past 20 years I have co-edited a book series for Columbia University Press in which we have published 15 books to date.


B. S. (Geology), Haverford College, 1973

M. A. (Geology), State University of New York at Binghamton, 1976

Ph. D. (Geology; Zoology minor), Indiana University, Bloomington, 1978


National Research Council Post-Doctoral Research Associate with U.S. Geological Survey at Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., 1978-1979

Research Associate, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, 1979-

Assistant Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Southern California,1979-1985

Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Southern California,1985-1991

Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 1991-

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 2003-

Visiting Scientist, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, May, 1986

Chair, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 2006-

Co-Director, USC-LACMNH Center for Chinese Fossil Discoveries, 2008-

Selected Honors and Fellowships

Fellow, AAAS

Fellow, Geological Society of America

Paleontological Society Distinguished Lecturer, 1992-93.

Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of the Evolution and Origin of LIfe, UCLA, 2000

Fellow, The Paleontological Society

Other Affiliations

International Paleontological Association

Palaeontological Association

Paleontological Research Institution

Paleontological Society

International Association of Sedimentologists

SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology)

American Geophysical Union

Recent Professional Activities

President, The Paleontological Society, 2004-2006.

Editor-in-Chief for the journal "Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology", published by Elsevier, 2000-

President, Pacific Coast Section of SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), 2000.

Member of Organizing Committee for 2001 North American Paleontology Convention (NAPC), held at UC Berkeley.

Member of National Science Foundation funding panel on "Earth Systems History", 1997-99.

Member of Editorial Board of Geology, published by Geological Society of America, 1995-

Co-editor of Columbia University Press "Critical Moments in Paleobiology and Earth History" book series, 1990- (15 volumes published to date).

Editor of SEPM Journal PALAIOS, 1989-1996.

Recent Research Seminars

For 1992-2009:

Caltech (3), USC, UCLA (2), Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, California State University - Fullerton, Louisiana State University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Cincinnati, Northwestern University, Kansas University, Bryn Mawr College, University of Pennsylvania, University of Ottawa, ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), University of Birmingham (U.K.), Cambridge University (U.K.), University of Auckland (New Zealand), Kyushu University (Japan), University of Tokyo (3). Occidental College.

Ph.D. Graduates

1) Charles E. Savrda (1986), currently Professor, Auburn University.

2) Mary L. Droser (1987), currently Professor and Chair, University of California, Riverside

3) Reese Barrick (1993), currently Director, Sternberg Museum at Fort Hays State University, Kansas.

4) Jennifer Schubert (1993), currently practicing law in Seattle, Washington.

5) Kate Whidden (1994), currently Senior Research Scientist, US Geological Survey, Denver.

6) Kathleen Campbell (1995), currently Associate Professor, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

7) Carol M. Tang (1996), currently Senior Science Educator and Research Associate, California Academy of Sciences.

8) James W. Hagadorn (1998), currently Assistant Professor, Amherst College.

9) Adam Woods (1998), currently Associate Professor, California State University - Fullerton.

10) Stephen A. Schellenberg (2000), currently Associate Professor, San Diego State University.

11) Nicole M. Fraser (2002), currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area.

12) Stephen Q. Dornbos (2003), currently Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

13) Sara B. Pruss (2004), currently Assistant Professor, Smith College.

14) Nicole Bonuso (2005), currently Assistant Professor, University of California - Fullerton.

15) Margaret Fraiser (2005), currently Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

16) Matthew Clapham (2006), currently Assistant Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz.

17) Pedro Marenco (2007), currently Assistant Professor, Bryn Mawr College.

18) Katherine Marenco (2008), currently Postdoctoral Research Associate, Bryn Mawr College.

19) Catherine Powers, currently Assistant Professor, Glendale Community College.

Selected Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications (From a Total of 140)

Grellet-Tinner, G., Chiappe, L., Norell, M., and D. Bottjer. 2006. Dinosaur eggs and nesting behaviors: A paleobiological investigation. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 232, p. 294-321.

Bonuso, N. and D.J. Bottjer. 2006. A quantitative study of benthic faunal patterns within the Pennsylvanian and early Permian. Palaios, v. 21, p. 316-324.

Pruss, S.B., Bottjer, D.J., Corsetti, F.A. and A. Baud. 2006. A global marine sedimentary response to the end-Permian mass extinction: Examples from southern Turkey and the western United States. Earth-Science Reviews, v. 78, p. 193-206.

Chen, J.Y., Bottjer, D.J., Davidson, E.H., Dornbos, S.Q., Gao, X., Yang, Y.-H., Li, C.W., Li, G., Wang, X.-Q., Xian, D.-C., Wu, S.H., Hwu, Y.-K. and Tafforeau, P. 2006. Phosphatized polar lobe-forming embryos from the Precambrian of southwest China. Science, v. 312, p. 1644-1646.

Dornbos, S.Q., D.J. Bottjer, J.-Y. Chen, F. Gao, P. Oliveri and C.-W. Li. 2006. Environmental controls on the taphonomy of phosphatized animals and animal embryos from the Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Formation, southwest China. Palaios, v. 21, p. 3-14.

Fraiser, M.L. and D.J. Bottjer. 2006. Fossil preservation during the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction: Taphonomic processes and palaeoecological signals, p. 299-311. In: Over, J., Morrow, J. and Wignall, P. (eds.), Understanding Late Devonian and Permian-Triassic Biotic and Climatic Events: Towards an Integrated Approach. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 344 p.

Pruss, S.B., Corsetti, F.A. and D.J. Bottjer. 2006. Environmental trends of Early Triassic biofacies: Implications for understanding the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction, p. 313-332. In: Over, J., Morrow, J. and Wignall, P. (eds.), Understanding Late Devonian and Permian-Triassic Biotic and Climatic Events: Towards an Integrated Approach. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 344 p.

Bailey, J.V., Corsetti, F.A., Bottjer, D.J. and K.N. Marenco. 2006. Microbially-mediated environmental influences on metazoan colonization of matground ecosystems: Evidence from the Lower Cambrian Harkless Formation. Palaios, v. 21, p. 215-226.

Bottjer, D.J. and M.E. Clapham. 2006. Evolutionary paleoecology of Ediacaran Benthic marine animals, p. 91-114. In: Xiao, S. and Kaufman, A.J. (eds.), Neoproterozoic Geobiology and Paleobiology. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 300 p.

Clapham, M.E., Bottjer, D.J., Powers, C.M., Bonuso, N., Fraiser, M.L., Marenco, P.J., Dornbos, S.Q. and S.B. Pruss. 2006. Assessing the ecological dominance of Phanerozoic marine invertebrates. Palaios, v. 21, p. 431-441.

Bottjer, D.J., Davidson, E.H., Peterson, K.J. and R.A. Cameron. 2006. Paleogenomics of echinoderms. Science, v. 314, p. 956-960.

Sea Urchin Genome Sequencing Consortium (including D.J. Bottjer). 2006. The genome of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Science, v. 314, p. 941-952.

Pruss, S.B., Payne, J.L. and D.J. Bottjer. 2007. Placunopsis bioherms: The first metazoan buildups following the end-Permian mass extinction. Palaios, v. 22, p. 17-23.

Chen, J.-Y., Schopf, J.W., Bottjer, D.J., Zhang, C.-Y., Kudryavtsev, A.B., Tripathi, A.B., Wang, X.-Q., Yang, Y.-H., Gao, X. and Y. Yang. 2007. Raman spectra of a Lower Cambrian ctenophore embryo from southwestern Shaanxi, China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 104, p. 6289-6292.

Yin, H., Feng, Q., Baud, A., Xie, S., Benton, M.J., Lai, X. and D.J. Bottjer. 2007. The prelude of the end-Permian mass extinction predates a postulated bolide impact. International Journal of Earth Sciences (Geol Rundsch), v. 96, p. 903-909.

Clapham, M.E. and D.J. Bottjer. 2007. Permian marine paleoecology and its implications for large-scale decoupling of brachiopod and bivalve abundance and diversity during the Lopingian (Late Permian). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 249, p. 283-301.

Clapham, M.E. and D.J. Bottjer. 2007. Prolonged Permian-Triassic ecological crisis recorded by molluscan dominance in Late Permian offshore assemblages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 104, p. 12971-12975.

Fraiser, M.L. and D.J. Bottjer. 2007. When bivalves took over the world. Paleobiology, v. 33, p. 397-413.

Fraiser, M.L. and D.J. Bottjer. 2007. Elevated atmospheric CO2 and the delayed biotic recovery from the end-Permian mass extinction. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 252, p. 164-175.

Woods, A.D., Bottjer, D.J. and Corsetti, F.A. 2007. Calcium carbonate seafloor precipitates from the outer shelf to slope facies of the Lower Triassic (Smithian-Spathian) Union Wash Formation, California, USA: Sedimentology and palaeobiologic significance. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 252, p. 281-290.

Bottjer, D.J. and J.W. Hagadorn. 2007. Mat growth features, p. 53-71. In: Schieber, J., et al. (eds.), Atlas of Microbial Mat Features Preserved within the Silicilastic Rock Record. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 311 p.

Marenco, K.N. and D.J. Bottjer. 2007. Ecosystem engineering in the fossil record: Early examples from the Cambrian period, p. 163-184. In: Cuddington, K., Byers, J., Wilson, W.G. and Hastings, A. (eds.), Ecosystem Engineers: Plants to Protists. Academic Press, Amsterdam, 405 p.

Powers, C.M. and D.J. Bottjer. 2007. Bryozon paleoecology indicaes mid-Phanerozoic extinctions were the product of long-term environmental stress. Geology, v. 35, p. 995-998.

Bonuso, N. and D.J. Bottjer. 2008. A test of biogeographical, environmental, and ecological effect on Middle and Late Triassic brachiopod and bivalve abundance patterns. Palaios, v. 23, p. 43-54

Marenco, K.N. and D.J. Bottjer. 2008. The importance of Planolites in the Cambrian substrate revolution. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 258, p. 189-199

Marenco, P.J., Corsetti, F.A., Hammond, D.E., Kaufman, A.J. and D.J. Bottjer. 2008. Oxidation of pyrite during extraction of carbonate associated sulfate. Chemical Geology, v. 247, p. 124-132.

Marenco, P.J., Corsett, F.A., Kaufman, A.J. and D.J. Bottjer. 2008. Environmental and diagenetic variations in carbonate associated sulfate: An investigation of CAS in the Lower Triassic of the western U.S.A. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 72, p. 1570-1582.

Alroy, J., Aberhan, M., Bottjer, D.J., Foote, M., Fürsich, F.T., Harries, P.J., Hendy, A.J.W., Holland, S.M., Ivany, L.C., Kiessling, W., Kosnik, M.A., Marshall, C.R., McGowan, A.J., Miller, A.I., Olszewski, T.D., Patzkowsky, M.E., Peters, S.E., Vilier, L., Wagner, P.J., Bonuso, N., Borkow, P.S., Brenneis, B., Clapham, M.E, Fall, L.M., Ferguson, C.A., Hanson, V.L., Krug, A.Z., Layou, K.M., Leckey, E.H., Nürnberg, S., Powers, C.M., Sessa, J.A., Simpson, C., Tomasovych, A., Visaggi, C.C. 2008. Phanerozoic trends in the global diversity of marine invertebrates. Science, v. 321, p. 97-100.

Bottjer, D.J., Clapham, M.E., Fraiser, M.L. and C.M. Powers. 2008. Understanding mechanisms for the end-Permian mass extinction and the protracted Early Triassic aftermath and recovery. GSA Today, v. 18, p. 4-10.

Powers, C.M. and D.J. Bottjer. 2009. The effects of mid-Phanerozoic environmental stress on bryozoan diversity, paleoecology, and paleogeography. Global and Planetary Change, v. 65, p. 146-154.

Fraiser, M.L. and D.J. Bottjer. 2009. Opportunistic behaviour of invertebrate marine tracemakers during the Early Triassic aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 56, p. 841-857.

Clapham, M.E., Shen, S.Z. and D.J. Bottjer. 2009. The double mass extinction revisited: reassessing the severity, selectivity, and causes of the end-Guadalupian biotic crisis (Late Permian). Paleobioogy, v. 35, p. 32-50.

Chen, J.-Y., Bottjer, D.J., Davidson, E.H., Li, G., Gao, F., Cameron, R.A., Hadfield, M.G., Xian, D.-C., Tafforeau, P., Jia, Q.-J., Sugiyama, H. and R. Tang. 2009. Phase contrast synchrotron X-ray microtomography of Ediacaran (Doushantuo) metazoan microfossils: Phylogenetic diversity and Evolutionary implications. Precambrian Research, v. 173, p. 191-200.

Mata, S.A. and D.J. Bottjer. 2009. The paleoenvironmental distribution of Phanerozoic wrinkle structures. Earth-Science Reviews, v. 96, p. 181-195.

Mata, S.A. and D.J. Bottjer. 2009. Development of Lower Triassic wrinkle structures: Implications for the search for life on other planets. Astrobiology, v. 9, p. 895-906.

Chen, J.-Y., Bottjer, D.J., Li, G., Hadfield, J.G., Gao, F., Cameron, A.R., Zhang, C.-Y., Xian, D.-C., Tafforeau, P., Liao, X., and Yin, Z.-J. 2009. Complex embryos displaying bilaterian characters from Precambrian Doushantuo phosphate deposits, Weng'an, guizhou, China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 106, p. 19056-19060.



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Last Updated Jan 2010