Stat 41: Quantitative Paleobiology

Stat 41: Quantitative Paleobiology
Spring 2017
Prof. Steve C. Wang
Writing course

Course description: This course will explore current research in paleobiology and macroevolution. For instance, does evolutionary change generally occur gradually or in short bursts? What factors make species more likely to go extinct? We will focus on statistical methods used to answer such questions, rather than theory or proofs. Class meetings will include lectures, discussion of journal articles, and conversations with paleontologists via skype. We will also discuss aspects of scientific careers such as grants, journals, and reviewing.


I. Evolution

Paleontological topics:
Natural selection
Evolution and creationism
The tree of life
Large-scale evolutionary trends
Cope's rule
Punctuated equilibrium and stasis

Statistical topics:
Phylogenetic trees
Maximum likelihood
Akaike Information Criterion

Confirmed guests:
Ken Miller, Brown Univ.
Casey Dunn, Brown Univ.
Steve Brusatte, Univ. of Edinburgh
Dan McShea, Duke Univ.
Noel Heim, Stanford Univ.
Gene Hunt, Smithsonian Institution

II. Extinction

Paleontological topics:
Estimating extinction times
Mass extinctions
Signor-Lipps effect
Extinction selectivity
Modern extinctions
Mass rarity

Statistical topics:
Stratigraphic range extensions
Decision trees
Logistic regression
Principal components analysis

Confirmed guests:
Catalina Pimiento, Univ. of Zurich
Alison Boyer, Univ. of Tennessee
Jon Payne, Stanford Univ.
Pincelli Hull, Yale Univ.

Questions? See the FAQ or email me.

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