Taphonomy and Paleoecology


Available soon

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Miguel Moreno-Azanza, Paulo Alexandre Rodrigues Roque Legoinha


Weekly - Available soon

Total - 51

Teaching language



Available soon


Allison, P. P. & Briggs, D.E.G. (Eds.) (1991): Taphonomy, 574p. Plenum, New York.

Brenchley, P.J. & Harper, D.A.T. (1998): Palaeoecology: Ecosystems, environments and evolution.

Briggs, D.E.G. & Crowter, P.R. (1992): Palaeobiology. A synthesis. Blackwell Ed., 583p, Oxford

Bromley, R.G. (1990): Trace fossils. Unwin Hyman Ed, 280p. London.

Chapman & Hall Ed.402p, London.

Tevesz, M.J.S. & Mc Call, P.L. (Eds.) (1983): biotic interactions in recent and fossil benthic communities, 837p. Plenum, New York.

Teaching method

Theoretical classes and practices concerning analyses and discussion about presented case studies. Field trip.

Evaluation method

Continuous assessment through presentation and discussion of reports and / or topics for discussion.

Subject matter


1 - Taphonomy. Definition and parts. Skeletal composition of fossils. Preservation of microstructures.

2 - Biostratinomy: processes: dissociation, fragmentation, sorting, shell orientation, reworking, shell concentrations. Field questionaries. Fossil assemblages.

3 - Fossildiagenesis: preservative processes: silicification, piritized and phosphated fossils, carbonate dissolution.

4 - Taphonomic feedback. Time averaging. Taphofacies.

5 - Palaeoecology: general concepts. Diversity, equitability, dominance. Main changes in diversity of the fossil record. Massive extinctions: causes and consequences. The K/T boundary.

6 - Trophic structure of ecosystems. Trophic webs. Models in ancient communitties.

7 - Sediment-organism relations. Bioturbation and bioerosion: morphology, classifications. Neoichnology and Palaeoichnology.

8 - Well preserved old ecosystems: Ediacara, Burgess shale, Hunrückschiefer, Mazon Creek, Holzmaden, Solnhofen, Montsec, Santana, Ambar of Balthic.

9 - Ecobiostratigraphy.

10 - Stable isotope technicals applied to palaeoecology.


1 - Labeled samples of several types of preservation, transportation effects and endogenous biological destruction.

2 - Taphonomical studies in the laboratory: counting shell remains, fragmentation, abrasion, bioerosion, bioencrustation, sorting.

3 - Diversity index, equitability and dominance histograms of samples.

4 - Description of several trace fossils, determination of their behavioral category and palaeoenvironment.

5 - Interpretation of sets of isotopic data from Mollusks.

6 - Field work: taphonomy in shell concentrations of Lisboa marine Upper Miocene.


Programs where the course is taught: