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Home > Science and research > Biodiversity and global changes in geological history

Biodiversity and global changes in geological history

The focus of this research is the reaction of the biosphere to global changes that have taken place throughout geological history. Of particular concern are the changes in the structure of the palaeocommunities affected by these changes and the study of carbon cycles and changes of average temperature in the global marine ecosystem during the Lower Palaeozoic and Cretaceous. Global changes affecting the terrestrial biota during the Carboniferous and Quaternary are also an important theme. A multidisciplinary approach is being used to understand the processes involved. Palaeontological methods, including analysis of palaeocommunities, phytogenetic analysis and pollen and cuticle analysis are combined with isotope geochemistry.

Early Palaeozoic

Research is being carried out into changes in the marine fauna and evolutionary diversity of conodonts, gastropods, cephalopods, brachiopods, trilobites, tentaculites, lamellibranchs, and scolecodonts, and in the microfacies, communities, and volcanic activity in palaeo- environments during the Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian in the Czech Republic, USA and Gotland. Attention is also being given to questions of international biostratigraphic and chemostratigraphic correlation. Many of the results of these investigations have been published and others are in press or in preparation at the present time (P. Budil, J. Frýda, L. Ferrová, J. Kříž, Š. Manda, M. Steinová, P. Tonarová and S. Vodrážková).

Late Palaeozoic

In contrast to the investigations being carried out on the marine ecosystems of Early Palaeozoic age, in the Late Palaeozoic emphasis is being placed on the study of deposits and palaeo-ecosystems formed in continental environments. The methods used are different to those used in the case of marine deposits. Attempts are being made to correlate evolution of flora and changes in palynological assemblages with the changes in palaeoecology caused by alternation of humid and arid periods in global climate. This study is suplemented by sedimentological investigations, specifically of fossil soils. Recently, research on the dispersed cuticles isolated from coal has started. This, in combination with pollen analysis, will be used to reconstruct the composition of the original “peat-forming” vegetation during the Carboniferous and Permian (Z. Šimůnek, J. Drábková, R. Lojka).

Cretaceous

Research is mainly being carried out in the Bohemian Cretaceous Basin where the marine ammonite, lamellibranch and sponge faunas are being studied. Animal sponges have also been discovered recently on James Ross Island on the Antarctic Peninsula (R. Vodrážka).

Neogene

Scallops of Neogene age (5.9–5.4 Ma) have been discovered in the Antarctic Peninsula (D. Nývlt, B. Mlčoch, P. Mixa, M. Bubík).

Quaternary

Palynological analysis of samples collected from Quaternary deposits in Czechia, Moravia and Slovakia are being used to correlate changes in the flora and climate (E. Břízová).

New techniques

R. Vodrážka (2011) was granted a patent for a new method that was developed to enable extraction of calcareous and pyritised fossils from calcareous rocks. Z. Šimůnek has developed an improved method for separating dispersed cuticles from coal.

For further references see the personal pages of individual authors.

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Czech Geological Survey
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152 00 Praha 5
phone: +420251085347
fax: +420 251 818 748
jiri.fryda@geologycz