Dr. Sora Kim
Department of Earth and Environmental Science
University of Kentucky
Eocene shark week: interrelationships between ecology and environment
The Eocene is often invoked as an analogue to future climate change because greenhouse conditions extended to high latitudes. Fossil evidence from the Eocene Arctic and Antarctic include temperate flora and fauna from marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The most abundant marine vertebrate fossils found in Eocene high latitude localities are sand tiger shark teeth, which yield environmental and ecological data related to water conditions and body size, respectively. I use modern sharks as an analogue to provide physiological, environmental, and ecological context for interpretation in deep time. In addition, I compare water salinity and body size of sand tiger shark teeth at Eocene mid- and high latitude localities to evaluate potential latitudinal effects on ecology. The abundance of fossil shark teeth in the geological record offers an opportunity to explore their ecological plasticity during periods of climate change.
My research questions focus on ecosystem responses to ecological change over broad time and spatial scales. I blend the disciplines of biogeochemistry, paleontology, ecology, and physiology using stable isotope techniques. Currently my research explores the interaction between ecology, environment, and climate in two time periods and study systems: Eocene sharks and Holocene terrestrial ecosystems. While these are vastly different directions, I use similar approaches to delve into the biogeochemical mechanisms and processes with modern analogues for physiology and ecology, then wider applications in deeper time.