Prof. Dr. Jörg Fröbisch
The origin and early evolution of amniotes, the clade that includes all fully terrestrial tetrapods, led to major changes in the structure and hierarchy of terrestrial vertebrate ecosystems, including the evolution of high-fiber herbivory, entirely new locomotor strategies such as climbing and flying, and ultimately the evolution of modern terrestrial ecosystems. My research focuses on the patterns of diversification, phylogeny, and paleobiology of one of the two major clades of amniotes, the Synapsida, the clade that ultimately led to the evolution of mammals. The application of a number of different approaches combines paleontological fieldwork with modern techniques (3D-imaging) and quantitative methods to shed new light on the initial patterns of diversification of synapsids, the transition from early forms to therapsids (including mammals) and the acquisition of key mammalian features. Ultimately, my research aims to quantitatively investigate trends in the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems, such as in their complexity, as well as to gain a better understanding of the impact of mass extinction events on terrestrial ecosystems, with the focus on the vertebrate fauna.
Brocklehurst, N., Ruta, M., Müller, J., and Fröbisch, J. (2015) Elevated extinction rates as a trigger for diversification rate shifts: early amniotes as a case study. Scientific Reports 5:17104.