Network analysis in paleobiology

SNIC 2018/5-22


SNAC Small

Principal Investigator:

Steffen Kiel


Naturhistoriska riksmuseet

Start Date:


End Date:


Primary Classification:

10503: Geosciences, Multidisciplinary




This project explores the applicability of network theory and network analysis in paleobiology. Many systems of interacting units in the biological, social, and technological world can be seen as networks. Obvious examples include food webs, neural and social networks, the World Wide Web, power grids, etc. Understanding the nature of these networks is crucial for a broad range of applications, like assessing the vulnerability of critical infrastructures to failure, or to predict and prevent the spread of epidemics. Of particular interest are methods to detect large-scale structures such as communities and modules in networks, and these approaches have recently begun to be used to address biogeographic questions. Present-day biogeographic distributions have a historical basis and the fossil record is a key to understand both this historical basis and the long-term evolution of biogeography. However, the methods currently used to investigate biogeography with fossil data do not fully capture the dynamics in biogeographic evolution. One part of the present project involves developing and testing approaches tailored specifically to paleobiological problems, i.e., addressing issues around the incompleteness of the fossil record, the evolution of bioregions over millions of years, etc. In the other part of the project, these new approaches, as well as established ones, will be applied in the frame of my ongoing VR project "Deep-sea ecosystems: biogeography of methane-seep faunas through time" (Djuphavens ekosystem: Biogeografi öfer faunan runt metanflöden genomtiderna). Co-investigator Frida Hybertsen is a PhD student in this VR project.