Draft 1. Evolutionary Observations in the Ohio Outcrop Formations

This topic submitted by Hadley, Andy, Eric ( e@quasipop.com) at 7:19 PM on 10/4/02.

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Earth Systems Syllabus -Western Program-Miami University

Hadley Eblen
Andy Kuss
Eric Shultz
Our hypothesis is that by looking at the fossil record, one may determine the stages of changes over history in one distinct location. We plan on identifying this hypothesis by observing outcrop formations in the Oxford, Ohio area. By observing these outcrops, we make distinct different geological formations that represent a paleo-environment hospitable for specific organisms and species. These environments did change over time and we will be able to observe in what way the species changed in accordance over the duration, and subsequently hypothesize as to why. Alfred Russel Wallace, 19th century evolutionary biologist stated: "Geology. however, furnishes us with positive proof of the extinction and production of species, though it does not inform us how either has taken place. The extinction of species, however, offers but little difficulty, ... Geological changes, however gradual, must occasionally have modified external conditions to such an extent as to have rendered the existence of certain species impossible." We intend to support this thesis by Wallace in our study and to use his ideas as a sort of foundation philosophically for our studies. We anticipate that in a given formation that laterally, we will find much similarity within the levels; however longitudinally we will find evidence of change in environment, thus also change in species. Due to the nature of the history of the area, we anticipate observing an environment progressing from that of a marine environment, towards a terrestrial environment. We anticipate finding these changes in both the flora and fauna with the progression in the terrestrial environment. Ideally, we will observe the processes of evolution and extinction as these geological changes occur. Hopefully, we will be able to connect for everyone the fact that where the Midwest currently lies, was once a shallow ocean, though its now forest, farmland, and suburbia.
With this project, we plan on going out to outcrops, and using scientific methods for collecting data that will be implemented into an elaborate report applied to our hypothesis. We plan on going out to the sites with rock hammers to collect fossils and digital camras to preserving as much of the data as possible, and subsequently developing a presentation with these media in a more visual and hands-on fashion. With this information, we should hope that those who read our report and see our presentation are thus enlightened with the knowledge of the history of our geographical area, and are hopefully motivated to explore some on their own.
This project is especially interesting to us because it directly pertains to: the material of our class, to evolution of species, and its invariable tie to changes in geological settings. With the material we have been covering in our class, this could only serve to compliment this material and serve as a method of application of Wallace’s hypotheses. This research is also interesting because this is where we live.

Background Information:
Arnold I. Miller. Counting Fossils in a Cincinnatian Storm Bed: Spatial Resolution in the Fossil Record. http://www.earthscape.org/r3/brett/brett-chapter-03.html.
This internet source will prove to be incredibly useful, as it is a professional report made about our area in particular. The Scientist is going forth to not only prove spatial relevance of consistency within the beds, but his research does so over a much larger area, showing the consistency among the strata over a larger geographical region, and he does this utilising fossils. This data will be especially useful to as we will look at his methods and findings as references to support our data and for a hint when our research puts us into a squeeze. Hopefully we can build upon his data in a way that makes our case even stronger.
Steven M. Holland. Using Time/Environment Analysis to Recognize Faunal Events in the Upper Ordovician of the Cincinnati Arch. http://www.earthscape.org/r3/brett/brett-chapter-12.html.
This study is perfect for us as it focuses not only upon the same general geographical area we are focusing upon, but that it is also focusing upon the migration/extinction patterns evidenced within the area. While the philosophy behind our observation is a bit more broad and evolution oriented, this work is also along the same strain as ours. With this we will be able to learn and build on his methods and data, and hopefully we can find some greater examples through his work and build upon those.
Casey S. Hermoyian et. al. Testing the role of competition in fossil communities using limiting similarity. http://www-personal.umich.edu/~kaplanp/sharing/limsim.pdf
This study will prove very valueable in terms of making us think differently about our project towards its completion. The study problemetises the study of the fossil record, and brings in a focus upon interspecies competition as a a factor of evolution and extinction. Since we are studying the geological interactions with the sam subject, it would make sense that the geological changes may also cause a change in one species dominance over another, adding in further consideration for us to take in the analysis of our study.
Erin Kalassay and Lisel Shoffner. Final Report: Fossil Indications of Liberty Formation Depositional Environment. http://jrscience.wcp.miamioh.edu/Research/PaleobiologyArticles/FinalReport.FossilIndicat.html
This report has a very similar hypothesis to our own. We believe it will be very useful to examine their methods for carrying out the experiment, what statistics they performed, and hwo they interpreted their data.
Maris T. Alberdi, Maria A. Alonso, Beatriz Azanza, Manuel Hoyos, and Jorge Morales. Vertebrate taphonomy in circum-lake environments:three cases in the Guadix-Baza Basin (Granada, Spain). http://studentresearch.wcp.miamioh.edu/Taphonomy/TaphonomyLakeEnviron.pdf
Although the study took place on the other side of the world, we can still use the information of how diversity of species corellates to climate and environment. we can also learn what processes distributed the fossils across the different stratas, and what environments best preserve fossils.
Steve Morio, Tim Harden, and Karen Giafana. Analysis of Dominant Brachiopod Populations in terms of Size and Relative Abundance. http://jrscience.wcp.miamioh.edu/Research/PaleobiologyArticles/AnalysisofDominantBrachio.html
This report describes the variations, depositional environment and inter-species competition as pertaining to brachiopod populations found in the Arnhiem, Waynesville and Liberty outcrops. We can use this data to learn what conditions brachiopods survived best in, and how those conditions affected their size and abundance.
Sarah Beasley, Jim Foley and Pete Rivizzigno. Ocean Bottom Currents and Their Effects on Brachiopods in the Liberty Formation. http://jrscience.wcp.miamioh.edu/Research/PaleobiologyArticles/OceanBottomCurrentsandTheC.html
This report discusses how studying the orientation of fossils can determine what currents were going through the area. This picture of Ohio once being an ocean floor is one of our areas of interest that we wanted to get the class interested in.
Ben Waggoner. Introduction to the Brachiopoda; Of lamp shells and lophophores. . .http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/brachiopoda/brachiopoda.html.
This site provides us with relatively simple, but very accurate and informative information concerning brachiopods. Considering that Brachiopods are amongst the most common fossils we will come across, this site will prove very useful in the identification and understanding of the traits of these fossils we will acquire.
Spencer, Edgar Winston. Basic Concepts of Historical Geology, Thomas Y. Crowell Co.: New York, 1962.
This book gives helpful descriptions of how North America's paleogeography has changed over millions of years, providing detailed diagrams and maps. It explains what organisms lived in each time period and why they survived then went extinct.
Brenchley, P.J. Fossils and Climate, John Wiley & Sons: Chichester, 1984. This book has a section on brachiopod growth compared to climate, which will be very helpful in examining the conditions of each time period because the outcrops we are studying have so many brachiopods present.
Ross, Robert M, Allman, Warren D. Causes of Evolution: A paleontological Perspective, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL, 1990.
Since Ohio was once the bottom of a shallow ocean, the information on what biotic and abiotic factors contribute to a difference on onshore and offshore trends will be helpful when comparing the different time periods and why changes of species present have occurred.
Skinner, Brian. Palaeontology AND Paleoenvironments c.1981, Kauffman
This Article talks in depth about the change from one paleoenvironment to another and how species change with the change in environment.
Eldredge, Niles. Fossils: The Evolution and Extinction of Species. c.1991, Aurum Press.
Collection of photos and text illustrating many fossil animal species that are now extinct.
Boggs, Sam. Principles of Sedimentology and Straigraphy. Prentice Hall, 1995
This text will supply us with an explanation of how and why certain environments form, and therefore we will have a better understanding of the paleoenvironments that existed during the Palaeozoic era in Ohio.
Michael C. Hansen. The Geology of Ohio—The Cambrian. Ohio Department of Natural Resources. http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/geosurvey/geo_fact/geo_f20.htm
This resource from the state of Ohio will help us with general, but very helpful about the history of the area upon which we live, giving us a better idea of what was here in the past so that we have a greater ability to analyse it and interpret our data.

Research Design, Materials, and Methods:
We plan on using the maps that we currently have of Oxford area shale beds with interbedded limestone and eventually at the top of the formations will be sandstone which indicates a terrestrial environment. When we go out to the sites which we have mapped and some that we may map in the process, we will be brining with us a rock hammer for removing rock. Also we will be brining with us digital and analogue cameras to show the arrangement of the levels on a larger scale, preserve our work, and to share our experience with the class in class and on the website. For the collection of our fossil data, we will be brining with us several small bags as to preserve the fossils and keep them grouped by formation and strata and to be used for later observation. The fossils location in the formation will allow us to date approximately when the fossil comes from, we shall use this data to help show the changes in species over time. Also, while out we will be making a simplified map of interesting things in terms of the outcrop locations themselves and specific points within the outcrops. We will be using these maps to provide small maps for the members of the class so that they may explore these outcrops on their own. Another level of class involvement will be in that with our collection of fossils, we will make sure to get enough decent sized samples to present every class member with their own local fossil as to pique their interest in studying these outcrops.
When we go out to the site, we will have a meter stick, and starting at the bottom of the outcrop, we will measure up until the formation changes (i.e. from shale to limestione). We will observe the fossils located within each formation and see how these fossils change from formation to formation. The importance of marking the differences in formations is because a change in the rock means a change in the depositional environment that the rock was formed in and therefore also a change in the species present. Also, in the collection of our fossils, we will specifically mark where the fossils were found in terms of exact location in relation to reference points at the outcrop site. More of our practices will be clarified once we go out to the site and begin collecting more data and the fossils themselves.

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