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SSA could not be possible without the generous support of Drs. Herbert A. and Betty Lou Lubs and the Science, Society, and the Arts Research Conference Endowment. We are deeply grateful!
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Friday, March 17 • 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Easel 72: Bioturbation by Earthworms and Its Effect on the Fossil Record

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Bioturbation, the process by which biological agents mix sedimentary layers, influences fossil preservation. While burrowing, organisms may move sediment and displace fossilized remains, thereby compromising the integrity of a paleontological site. A recreation of an experiment by Armour-Chelu and Andrews (1994), this project addresses issues with their methodology and tests their results while utilizing time-lapse photography. We set up three glass cylinders filled with different amounts of compost, clay-rich soil, and leaf litter. One cylinder was used as a control and contained no earthworms; the other two differed in soil composition. Beads were placed in the cylinders at different horizons to represent animal remains and track vertical and horizontal displacement by earthworm movement. We hypothesize that earthworms will affect bead placement over the run time of this experiment (approximately 1 month). This suggests that paleontologists should consider the effect of bioturbation on fossil assemblages.


Friday March 17, 2017 3:00pm - 4:15pm
Leyburn Library