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‘T151: New Approaches to Phylogenetic Paleobiology’ at GSA Annual Meeting 2016. Sept 25-28 in Denver


Hello all,

(Cross-posting this with slight edits from the R-Sig-Phylo listserv, which probably has similar membership…)

We are pleased to announce a topical session scheduled for the 2016 annual Geological Society of America meeting held from September 25th-28th in Denver, Colorado, USA. Our oral topical session, “New Approaches to Phylogenetic Paleobiology”, is organized by myself (David W. Bapst, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology), Melanie J. Hopkins (American Museum of Natural History), April M. Wright (Iowa State University), and David F. Wright (The Ohio State University), and sponsored by the Paleontological Society and the Paleontological Research Institution.

We hope to highlight novel methods and analyses for inferring phylogenies of fossil taxa, dating divergences between clades and for using phylogenies to test macroevolutionary hypotheses. A more detailed description is provided below. We would really love to see both work that combines molecular phylogenies with fossil data or work that uses phylogenies of fossil data. If you’re doing anything that sounds like it might fit in, we encourage you to submit an abstract for our session (T151) and give an oral presentation on your work.

Abstract submission is now open and closes on July 12th. The abstract fee is $50.00 for professionals and $25.00 for students. When you submit, please select Topical Session and then select our session (T151) from the list:

Those of you who are classical biologists may be wondering ‘why attend a geology meeting?’. GSA is one of the largest annual conferences attended by the paleontological community at large, as it also serves as the annual meeting for the Paleontological Society. The paleontological sessions at GSA include paleontologists working on vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and pretty much anything else that leaves a fossil, and many of the sessions are focused on evolutionary and ecological analyses of deep time.

Please note there are several other topical sessions that dovetail with our interests in phylogenetic paleobiology: T152: Troubles and Triumphs with Fossil Phylogenies, chaired by Jennifer E. Bauer (University of Tennessee), Adriane R. Lam (University of Massachusetts Amherst), and Sarah L. Sheffield (University of Tennessee); T136: Across Space and through Time: Understanding Evolution and Ecology using Biogeography, chaired by Alexander M. Dunhill (University of Leeds) and Erin E. Saupe (Yale University); and T140: Evolution, Development, and Paleogenomics, chaired by David J. Bottjer (University of Southern California), and Jeffrey R. Thompson (University of Southern California). You can find the full list of topical sessions here:

In addition to topical sessions on specific topics, there will be a number of general technical sessions on morphometrics, diversification, macroevolutionary dynamics, functional morphology and mass extinctions, dependent on the abstracts submitted. You will likely find interesting paleobiological sessions running from the start of the conference to its end.

For registration purposes, You can receive all the benefits of a GSA membership by being a Paleontological Society member instead, at a lower rate ($30-55), although if you are a student, it may be more prudent to consider GSA membership as some travel support may be dependent on that. Travel support for students and international researchers attending the GSA meeting can be found at and

The Denver conference center is close to a number of hotels that offer special rates for attendees, and room reservation can be done through GSA. Downtown Denver is also home to a number of museums, a zoo and many restaurants. Registration for the conference and lodging reservation will open in May.

If you have any questions regarding our session, feel free to contact me directly at

Cheers, -Dave Bapst

Session description: While paleontology has always been strongly linked to phylogenetics, the past decade has seen a major acceleration in the development and deployment of new methodologies for inferring phylogenies containing fossil taxa, using fossil information for dating divergences, and using phylogenies of fossil taxa to address major questions of ecology and evolution in deep time. Notably, these cutting-edge methodological advances have come from both the paleobiology and evolutionary biology communities. This session will provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between disciplines whose members often have little reason to attend the same meeting (i.e. GSA versus Evolution) and promote the unification of fossil and phylogenetic approaches to macroevolution.


Just a reminder, for anyone interested in presenting at GSA, that abstract submission closes on July 12th, which is less than a week away. Cheers! -Dave