UCL Earth Sciences


Claire Routledge

“Role of climatic shifts in plankton evolution.”

PhD project title:

Plankton evolution and the Paleogene/Neogene transition.

Claire Routledge
Project description:

The modern oceanic phytoplankton community comprises three algal groups: the diatoms, coccolithophores and dinoflagellates. The late Eocene to early Miocene saw significant decline in the diversity of coccolithophores (calcareous nannoplankton), coincident with a rise in siliceous diatoms. This time period also saw major climatic reorganisation with high latitude cooling, ice sheet growth on Antarctica and glacial-interglacial cycles. 

This project will document the structure and timing of calcareous nannoplankton diversity through this interval (33–21 Ma) and test whether climatic shifts played a significant role in plankton evolution, population variability and population composition. Sample material will primarily focus on cores recovered during IODP Expedition 342 to the North Atlantic in 2012. The clay-rich sediment drifts are unique for deep sea sediments as they provide expanded stratigraphy and exceptional microfossil preservation. 

Claire graduated from Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls, Texas) in 2013 with a BSc in Geosciences before completing her MSc at The Florida State University (Tallahassee, Florida) in 2015. Claire was a member of IODP Expedition 355 Scientific Party that sailed in the Arabian Sea in 2015, collecting material for her master’s project.