This blog is written collaboratively by Paleoecology students at the University of Maine, taught by Prof. Jacquelyn Gill in the School of Biology and Ecology. For most students, this will be their first time blogging, and the goal of this blog is twofold: to entertain and educate a broad audience, and to provide students with an opportunity to try their hand at non-academic writing. This blog’s title, “Ecology by Proxy,” refers to the fact that in order to study the past, we must rely on clues in the geologic record, rather than direct observation.
Paleoecology is the study of the relationship between fossil organisms and their natural environments through time. This course will focus on the Quaternary (the last 2.5 million years), with an emphasis on the last 21,000 years of terrestrial environments in North America (from the end of the last ice age to the recent historic record). Topics include past environmental change and how species, populations, and ecosystem processes responded; common methods used to reconstruct the past; ecological principles applied to past species and landscapes; and the role of paleoecology in conservation.