"The Birth of the Modern World: Understanding Floral Dynamics during the Mesozoic"

Dr Mario Coiro's seminar visit to School of Natural Sciences

In February, we had the pleasure of hosting Dr Mario Coiro from the University of Vienna when he visited Trinity College Dublin for his School of Natural Sciences’ Research Seminar talk.

Dr Coiro is a leading botanist and paleobiologist with a passion for exploring the intricacies of evolution. With a wide range of skills, including expertise in molecular biology and an in-depth knowledge of cycads, Dr Coiro is dedicated to advancing our understanding of the natural world. In his talk “The Birth of the Modern World: Understanding Floral Dynamics during the Mesozoic”, he walked the audience through the key findings of his research, which tackles some of the most pressing questions surrounding floral group dynamics and evolutionary processes.

After the talk, the customary pizza lunch was held, and the department’s postgrads had the chance to have a more casual chat with Dr Coiro about a variety of topics ranging from cutting-edge research to how much better the weather is in Italy. Dr Coiro also took the time for one-on-one meetings with the TERRAFORM group’s PhD students. “Coming from a trait-based approach, talking to someone coming from a macroevolutionary angle broadened my perspective. Having the opportunity to pick someone’s brain like this is super valuable!” said Catarina Barbosa, a second-year PhD student.

To find out more about Dr Mario Coiro’s research please visit his blog

 Figure source: https://mariocoiro.blog/2023/06/27/a-new-view-of-cycads-in-deep-time/

Are plants Ecosystem Engineers?

Will Matthaeus presents a case to the International Biogeography Society in Prague

In the frosty early days of January, Dr Will Matthaeus went to Prague to deliver a talk at the Ecosystem Engineering Symposium organized by Kate Lyons and Amelia Villaseñor at the 11th Biennial Conference of International Biogeography Society (IBS). In a session covering everything from Edicarian bioturbation to anthropogenic impacts and rewilding—500 million years of ecosystem engineering—Will presented plants as a foundational aspect of terrestrial ecosystems and classic examples of ecosystem and landscape reorganization with plant evolutionary changes (e.g., ‘The Devonian Plant Hypothesis’). The earliest plants were little more than ‘green slime.’  These small, prostrate organisms that were limited to wet environments may still have impacted global ecosystems by altering atmospheric oxygen concentrations.  Over the course of the evolutionary transformations that led from green slime to boreal forests and savannahs, plants have likely increased the diversity and maximum effect in their impact on ecosystems. Synthesis of paleo-plant traits, among other paleontological techniques, may provide insight into this function over periods of change, upheaval, and extinction in terrestrial environments that are informative for our future. However, understanding these changes requires expertise in a broad variety of disciplines; IBS meetings are a valuable opportunity for developing the frontiers of paleoecology through new collaborations.