How did grasses alter Earth’s ecosystem?

In one of the Strömberg lab’s ongoing projects, graduate student Elisha Harris is studying how vegetation structure and faunas changed in northern Idaho during the latest major warming event on Earth, the so-called Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum (MMCO), 14–17 million years ago. By doing so, she will learn how ecosystems respond to global warming over longer timescales. This information might also be useful for predicting how our current ecosystems will fare in the face of anthropogenic climate change.

In another project, Dr. Strömberg and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Georgina Erra traveled to southernmost Patagonia to collect rocks from the time of the dinosaurs. They hope to trace the steps of the earliest grasses, which are thought to have lived in South America, to better understand what kinds of environments allowed these remarkable plants to evolve.

A third project, which involves former Paleontology Collections Manager, Dr. Regan Dunn, a former member of the lab, seeks to shed light on how vegetation and faunas changed in Patagonia in response to environmental change during the last 50 million years.

To learn more about research on grasses and grasslands, visit the Strömberg lab webpage.

Article Source: Burke Museum