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Annual Meeting 2023 - Cambridge, UK: Symposium

Number: 67th Annual Meeting
Year: 2023
Location: Cambridge, UK
Hosted By: University of Cambridge
Organised By: Organising committee chaired by Dr Alex Liu
General Contact Email:


The 2023 Symposium will be held on the afternoon of Tuesday 12th September, addressing the topic Ecosystem Engineering through Deep Time.  The schedule has been modified from previous years to attract a broader range of current research and researchers.  The new format includes six volunteered oral presentations, focusing on how particular groups, habits or evolutionary innovations have (re-)defined physical environments through time.  The Symposium schedule is as follows: 

Symposium: “Ecosystem engineering through deep time”

Auditorium, West Road Concert Hall, West Road.

Tuesday 12th September

13:15 – 13:30Welcome address
13:30 – 14:00Understanding niche construction as a cause of natural selection
Kevin Lala
14:00 – 14:15Exploring the macroevolutionary impact of ecosystem engineers using an individual-based eco-evolutionary simulation
Luke A. Parry, Thomas J. Smith, Frances S. Dunn, Russell J. Garwood
14:15 – 14:30Modern and ancient root-related calcretes: calcium carbonate biomineralisation in the rhizosphere as a soil ecosystem engineering mechanism
Adrijan Kosir
14:30 – 15:00The deep-time record of bioturbators as ecosystem engineers
M. Gabriela Mángano
15:00 – 15:15The role of ecosystem engineering in novelty and innovation
Douglas H. Erwin
15:15 – 15:45Tea/coffee break (Foyer, West Road Concert Hall)
15:45 – 16:15Body size evolution as a driver of Phanerozoic nutrient availability
Christopher E. Doughty
16:15 – 16:30Neoichnology as a lens for studying ecosystem engineering across the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition
Katherine A. Turk, Achim Wehrmann, Simon A.F. Darroch, Marc Laflamme
16:30 – 16:45The first plants changed the planet and they used mud to do it
William J. McMahon, Neil S. Davies, Stefan C. Loehr, Cassandra A. Wheeler
16:45 – 17:15Biogeochemical interactions between life and the environment during the Ediacaran Period
Graham A. Shields
17:15 – 17:30How to engineer a habitable planet: New frameworks for understanding the rise and fall of marine ecosystem engineers through Earth history
Alison Cribb, Simon A.F. Darroch, Thomas Ezard


One of the intentions of the local organisers when changing the Symposium format this year was to attract a broad range of potential Symposium speakers spanning all career stages, and to open up participation in the Symposium to members of groups who have not historically been represented, in line with the Palaeontological Association’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

17 abstracts were submitted for consideration as Symposium talks. These included a broad range of career stages, including many ECRs, but all lead authors were from institutions in the global north, and only 4 of the 17 lead authors identify as female. The Palaeontological Association therefore recognise that although the new format has succeeded in expanding the range of career stages represented in this year’s symposium, more can be done in future years to encourage engagement from the full spectrum of our palaeontological community. In selecting speakers for the symposium, the local organisers also took into account the fit of the topic being presented to the theme of the symposium.

Please contact Nick Butterfield (njb1005[at] if you have any specific questions relating to the Symposium or the theme issue of Palaeontology.

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