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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Florida
  • Douglas S Jones
  • (352) 273-1902
  • Roger W Portell
Award Date:07/29/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 393,552
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 393,552
  • FY 2021=$393,552
Start Date:09/01/2021
End Date:08/31/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Comparative Taphonomy and Time-Averaging of Mollusk-Echinoid Assemblages using High-Performance Radiocarbon Dating System
Federal Award ID Number:2127623
DUNS ID:969663814
Parent DUNS ID:159621697
Program:Sedimentary Geo & Paleobiology
Program Officer:
  • Jonathan G Wynn
  • (703) 292-4725

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Florida
Street:1659 Museum Rd
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

The goal of this project is to assess what happens after death with remains of shelly animals (mollusks and sea urchins) that dominate many seafloors today and are widespread in the marine fossil record. Do those shells last for millennia or perish quickly? Because shells of mollusks and tests of sea urchins are abundant in many marine habitats, how fast or slow they perish may affect the carbon cycle, affect sediments in marine habitats, influence how sedimentary rocks form, and impact the resolution and quality of the fossil record. Moreover, there is tentative evidence that mollusks and sea urchins may differ dramatically in shell durability. Mollusk shells probably persist for centuries around the seafloor, whereas sea urchin tests only survive months or possibly years. This project will compare the post-mortem fate of mollusk shells and sea urchin tests and associated predictions across various types of marine habitats. By combining field surveys of live and dead animals and radiocarbon dating of dead remains, the project will quantify the survival time of mollusk and echinoid remains and use field data to test predictions based on expected shell destruction rates. The results will advance our understanding of marine sedimentation processes, formation of the sedimentary rock and fossil records, possible biases due to variable preservation of different animal groups, and the temporal resolution of fossil samples. The project will provide a direct opportunity for testing a new advanced strategy of radiocarbon dating with a real potential to advance our general ability to date fossil samples quickly and efficiently. The project will also serve as a platform for training a new generation of scientists and broadening participation of groups underrepresented in biology and geology. In addition, educational movies using novel immersive digital technology will be used to convey the excitement of conducting scientific research in marine settings. The project will engender international partnerships with the Commonwealth of Bahamas and provide collaborative bridges connecting students and researchers from public universities in Arizona and Florida. This project aims to improve our understanding fossilization processes that lead to preservation or destruction of benthic mollusks and echinoids, which are both important components of the marine fossil record. The main goal is to assess the hypothesis that these two groups of animals differ in skeletal durability and fossilization potential. By integrating live-dead field surveys and new generation radiocarbon instrumentation, we will test three predictions that stem from this hypothesis: (1) time-averaging, variation in age of specimens, is orders of magnitude higher for mollusks compared to echinoids; (2) live-dead specimen ratios are orders of magnitude lower for mollusks than for echinoids; and (3) specimen-fragment ratio is significantly higher for mollusks than for echinoids. These predictions will be tested using surface and subsurface samples from present-day seafloors around Florida and the Bahamas. The project will target diverse carbonate and siliciclastic settings to assess if the observed patterns are generalizable across different habitat types. The project will produce 45 live-dead surveys of mollusks and echinoids at 15 sampling sites across five localities. These field data will be augmented by radiocarbon dating of 1000 individual specimens of mollusks and echinoids. This extraordinarily large number of radiocarbon ages is now feasible using the new NSF-supported MICADAS accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) at Northern Arizona University (NAU) . Quantifying taphonomic differences between two major groups of marine invertebrates will advance our understanding of sedimentological processes related to formation of biogenic sedimentary rocks, the role of shell-producing organisms as carbon sinks or carbon sources, and the quality and temporal resolution of paleontological data. The proposed approach is designed as a broadly applicable research strategy transferrable to study systems. In terms of broader impacts activities, the project will advance STEM careers of one postdoctoral researcher, one graduate student, and ~12 undergraduate students, with specific focus on recruitment and career development of minority STEM students. The student training will encompass comprehensive research skills and will be vertically integrated to benefit mentoring skills of early career scientists. Outreach and education materials using 360° immersive video technology will include 3D-augmented reality movies of seafloor exploration by SCUBA (freely accessible as immersive 3D YouTube movies). The partnership between UF and NAU will facilitate networking of minority students in Florida and Arizona, and the international field work in partnership with the Gerace Research Centre will engage Bahamian students. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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