Earth's Genomic Record and Geoecodynamics : Evolving Landscapes and Paleoenvironments of the Critical Zone
The Genomics Revolution in the life sciences impacts directly on exciting questions across the earth sciences, and pertinently on linkages between geobiology and earth system science. It opens up great potential for cross-disciplinary research to study Earth’s evolving Critical Zone. Signatures in DNA sequence data can resolve formative events in the histories of extant species, which have each coevolved in specific associations with landforms and ecosystems. The burgeoning advances in biotechnology and computational biology to exploit genomic evidence make it increasingly feasible to reconstruct detailed evolutionary histories of this ‘Genomic Record of Earth History’.|Our access to these genomic archives of living biodiversity opens up a myriad of applications to study biotic indicators throughout the Critical Zone, and so reconstruct the tempo and mode of patterns and processes in geobiological evolution. The spatial-temporal fidelity of geobiotic evidence (dated events and associated localities) can be tightened by applying precise geochronological dates on landforms to calibrate the molecular clocks constraining genomic events, and so strengthen evolutionary narratives of extinct landscapes and ecosystems. Applications of Geoecodynamics informed by the genomic record include reconstructions of: mesoscale events in Late Cenozoic landscape evolution driven by central Africa’s epeirogeny (S. Afr. J. Geol. 2011,114:489-514); palaeodrainage (e.g. Quat. Sci. Rev. 2015,120:47e56); and the San Andreas-Great Pacific Fracture Zones (Biol. Rev. 2015,doi:10.1111/brv.12167).|This symposium invites empirical case studies in this new, rapidly growing science of geoecodynamics, focusing on extant biota to illustrate the scope and potential of the genomic record of the Critical Zone.
Fenton Cotterill, Dirk Bellstedt and Andrew Gottscho