Palaeobiology, Palaeoecology, and Taphonomy

Studies on Paleozoic Arthropoda: Central Canada, including the Hudson Bay and James Bay Lowlands

Fossil arthropods, particularly trilobites and chelicerates, are components of diverse benthic paleocommunities in the Paleozoic marine succession (Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian) in Ontario, Manitoba and southern Nunavut (Akimiski Island). Though they are never numerically dominant, arthropod fossils nevertheless yield critical insights on age (biostratigraphy), environment (paleoecology), preservation (taphonomy), and evolutionary dynamics. Field-based projects, including several in key remote outcrop areas of the Hudson Bay and James Bay lowlands, have produced important new fossil collections and data representing a range of sedimentary facies and environmental settings, from intertidal lagoons and rocky shorefaces to subtidal platforms with extensive reef buildups.

Current collaborative studies based on these collections focus on five main themes:

  • Upper Ordovician (Maysvillian – Richmondian) trilobite assemblages and associated trace fossils in the (?)Churchill River Group, Churchill, Manitoba - with Graham Young and Edward Dobrzanski (Manitoba Museum), Robert Elias (University of Manitoba), and Godfrey Nowlan (Geological Survey of Canada): Systematics, palaeoecology, and palaeoethology of a low diversity, shallow subtidal assemblage that includes the largest trilobites and trilobite-generated traces known from anywhere in the fossil record.
  • Fossil pycnogonids, eurypterids, and horseshoe crabs, and the Ordovician radiation of the Chelicerata - with Graham Young and Michael Cuggy (University of Saskatchewan), and others: Phylogeny, palaeoecology, and taphonomy of exceptionally preserved arthropods and associated biotas, from two new Upper Ordovician Lagerstätten in northern and central Manitoba.
  • Early Silurian (Telychian) reef-associated trilobites, Attawapiskat Formation, Ontario and Nunavut: Systematics, palaeobiology, and palaeoecology of a diverse assemblageof trilobites from coral-sponge-microbial reef buildups on the northwest and southeast flanks of the Cape Henrietta Maria Arch, including new evidence for coleobiontic/cryptic habitats.
  • Early Silurian (Wenlockian) invertebrates, Eramosa Formation, Ontario – with P. H. von Bitter (ROM), Janet Waddington (ROM), and others: Systematics, palaeobiology, palaeoecology, and taphonomy of trilobites, chelicerates, and priapulids from the Eramosa Lagerstätte, Bruce Peninsula.
  • Early Devonian (Emsian) trilobites of the Kwataboahegan Formation, Moose River Basin, Ontario – with Steve Westrop (Oklahoma Natural History Museum): Systematics, paleoecology, and biostratigraphy of geographically disjunct trilobite assemblages displaying discrete genus-level domination patterns; the palaeobiogeography of Terataspis (Lichida).

Trilobites of Ontario

Trilobites constitute important and occasionally conspicuous elements of many fossil assemblages in Palaeozoic rocks of south-central Ontario. This project documents their occurrence and builds and maintains representative collections with the ultimate aim of publishing an up-to-date reference volume for professional and amateur paleontologists. A collaboration with Steve Westrop and Lisa Amati (SUNY- Potsdam) will re-examine trilobite faunas in the Simcoe and Nottawasaga groups of Ontario as part of a major project to document biotic change related to foreland basin development in the Late Ordovician of North America.

Recent Publications