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Richard K. Bambach

Professor Emeritus of Paleontology


Ph.D., Yale University, 1969
M.S., Yale University, 1964
B. A., Johns Hopkins University, 1957

My main focus is on paleoecology, especially paleocommunity ecology, change in ecosystem structure over time, and patterns of change in marine diversity over time. More specific topics include:

  1. Utilization of ecospace and change in ecosystems over time
  2. The influence of ecospace utilization on diversity
    Distinguishing biological signals from taphonomic noise in fossil assemblages
  3. The varied nature of mass extinction events
  4. The implications of periodicity signals detected in diversity over time
  5. The interaction between origination and extinction in controlling diversity
  6. The asymmetry of trends in origination and extinction over time within taxa
  • Bush, A. M. and R. K. Bambach. 2015. Sustained Mesozoic-Cenozoic diversification of marine Metazoa: A consistent signal from the fossil record. Geology 43:979–982
  • Melott, A.L., and R. K. Bambach. 2014. Analysis of periodicity of extinction using the 2012 geological time scale. Paleobiology 40:177–196.
  • Melott, A.L., and R. K. Bambach. 2013. Do periodicities in extinction—with possible astronomical connections—withstand a revision of the geological timescale? The Astrophysical Journal 773:6 (5pp) doi:10.1088/0004-637X/773/1/6
  • Melott, A. L., R. K. Bambach, K. D. Petersen, and J. M. McArthur. 2012. A ~60 Myr periodicity is common to marine-87Sr/86Sr, fossil biodiversity, and large-scale sedimentation: what does the periodicity reflect?  The Journal of Geology 120:217–226
  • Melott, A. L. and R. K. Bambach. 2011. A ubiquitious ~62 Myr periodic fluctuation superimposed on general trends in fossil biodiversity: II, Evolutionary dynamics associated with periodic fluctuation in marine diversity. Paleobiology 37:383–408.
  • Bush, A. M., R. K. Bambach, and D. H. Erwin. 2011. Ecospace unitilization during the Ediacaran Radiation and the Cambrian “Eco-plosion. Chapter 5 in Dornbos, S. Q., M. Laflamme, and J. Schiffbauer (editors) Quantifying the Early Evolution of Life: Numerical Approaches to the Evaluation of Precambrian/Cambrian Animals and Ecosystems. Topics in Geobiology Volume 36, pp. 111–133, Springer.
  • Bush, A. M. and R. K. Bambach. 2011. Paleoecologic trends in marine metazoa. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Vol. 39:241–269.
  • Melott, A. L. and R. K. Bambach. 2011. A ubiquitious ~62 Myr periodic fluctuation superimposed on general trends in fossil biodiversity: I, Documentation. Paleobiology 37:92–112.
  • Melott, A. L. and R. K. Bambach. 2010. Nemesis Reconsidered. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 407:L99–L102.
  • Bambach, R. K. 2009. From empirical paleoecology to evolutionary paleobiology: A personal journey. Pp. 398–415 in D. Sepkoski and M. Ruse (eds,) The Paleobiological Revolution: Essays on the Growth of Modern Paleobiology. Univ. of Chicago Press.
  • Bambach, R. K. 2008. Paleontology’s Greatest Hits. Pp. 17–40 in Kelley, P. and Bambach, R. K. (eds.) From Evolution to Geobiology: Research Questions Driving Paleontology at the Start of a New Century. The Paleontological Society Papers Vol. 14.
  • Bambach, R. K. 2008. Diversity in the fossil record and Stephen Jay Gould’s evolving view of the history of life. Pp. 69–126 in W. D. Allmon, P. H Kelley, and R. M. Ross (eds.) Stephen Jay Gould: Reflections on His View of Life, Oxford University Press.
  • Bush, A. M., M. Kowalewski, A. P. Hoffmeister, R. K. Bambach, and G. M. Daley. 2007. Potential paleoecologic biases from size-filtering of fossils: Strategies for sieving.Palaios 22, p. 612–622.
  • Knoll, A. H., R. K. Bambach, J. L. Payne, S. Pruss, and W. W. Fischer. 2007. Paleophysiology and end-Permian mass extinction. Earth and Planetary Science Letters v. 256, p. 295–313.
  • Bush, A. M., R. K. Bambach, and G. M. Daley. 2007. Changes in theoretical ecospace utilization in marine fossil assemblages between the mid-Paleozoic and late Cenozoic. Paleobiology 33:76–97
  • Bambach, R. K., A. M. Bush, and D. H. Erwin. 2007. Autecology and the filling of ecospace: key metazoan radiations. Palaeontology 50:1–22.
  • Bambach, R. K. 2006 Phanerozoic biodiversity mass extinctions. Pp. 127–155 in Jeanloz, R., A. L. Albee, K. C. Burke, and K. H. Freeman (Eds.) Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences (Vol. 34).
  • Bush, A. M. and R. K. Bambach. 2004. Did alpha diversity increase during the Phanerozoic? Lifting the veils of taphonomic, latitudinal, and environmental biases. The Journal of Geology 112:625–642.
  • Bambach, R. K., A. H. Knoll, and S. Wang. 2004. Origination, extinction, and mass depletions of marine diversity. Paleobiology 30:522–542.
  • Kowalewski, M. and R. K. Bambach. 2003 The limits of paleontological resolution. Pp. 1–48 in Harries, P. J. and D. H. Geary (Eds.), High resolution approaches in paleontology. Kluwer Academic/Plenum.
  • Bambach, R. K.  2002. Supporting predators: changes in the global ecosystem inferred from changes in predator diversity. In Kowalewski, M., P. H. Kelley, and P. Dodson (Eds), The Fossil Record of Predation. Paleontological Society Papers, Vol. 8, pp. 319–352.
  • Bambach, R. K., A. H. Knoll, and J. J. Sepkoski, Jr. 2002. Anatomical and Ecological Constraints on Phanerozoic Animal Diversity in the Marine Realm. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U. S. A. 99:6854–6859.
  • Alroy, J., C. R. Marshall, R. K. Bambach et al. 2001. Effects of sampling standardization on estimates of Phanerozoic marine diversification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U. S. A. 98:6261–6266.
  • Knoll, A. H. and R. K. Bambach, 2000. Directionality in the history of life:  diffusion from the left wall or repeated scaling of the right?  In Erwin, D. H and S. L. Wing (Eds), Deep Time: Paleobiology's Perspective, Supplement to Paloebiology Volume 26 (4), pp. 1–14.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1999. The meaning of biotic succession. In Kellely, P., J. R. Bryan, and T. A. Hansen (Eds.), The Evolution-Creation Controversy II: Perspectives on Science, Religion, and Geological Education. Paleontolocial Society Papers Volume 5, pp. 23–46.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1999. The meaning of evolution In Scotchmoor, J. and D. A. Springer (Eds.) Evolution: Investigating the Evidence. Paleontological Society Special Publication Volume 9, pp.17–37.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1999. Energetics in the global marine fauna: a connection between terrestrial diversification and change in the marine biosphere. Geobios 32:131–144.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1998.  Tracking apparent sea-level change through the Silurian at Arisaig, Nova Scotia: comparison with the standard eustatic pattern. Pp. 25–35 in Landing, E. and M. E. Johnson (Eds.), Silurian Cycles: Linkages of Dynamic Processes in the Atmosphere and Oceans, New York State Museum Bulletin 491.
  • Pope, M. C., J. F. Read, R. Bambach, and H. J. Hofmann. 1997. Late Middle to Late Ordovician seismites of Kentucky, southwest Ohio and Virginia: sedimentary recorders of earthquakes in the Appalachian basin. Geological Society of America Bulletin 109:489–503.
  • Bennington, J B. and R. K. Bambach. 1996. Statistical testing for paleocommunity recurrence: are wimilar fossil assemblages ever the same? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 127:107–133.
  • Bambach, R. K. and J B. Bennington. 1996. Do communities evolve? a major question in evolutionary paleoecology. Pp. 123–160 in Jablonski, D., Erwin, D. H., and J. Lipps (Editors), Evolutionary Paleobiology: Essays in Honor of James W. Valentine, University of Chicago Press.
  • Knoll, A. H., R. K. Bambach, J. P. Grotzinger, and D. Canfield. 1996. Comparative earth history and Late Permian mass extinction. Science 273:452–457.
  • Dorsch, J., R. K. Bambach and S. G. Driese. 1994. Basin-rebound origin for the Tuscarora Unconformity" in Southwestern Virginia and its bearing on the nature of the Taconic Orogeny. American Journal of Science294:237–255.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1993. Seafood through time: changes in biomass, energetics and productivity in the marine ecosystem. Paleobiology 19:372–397.
  • Sepkoski, J. J., Jr., Bambach, R. K., and Droser, M. L. 1991. Secular changes in Phanerozoic event bedding and the biological overprint. Pp. 298–312 in Einsele, B., Ricker, W., and Seilacher, A. (eds.), Cycles and Events in Stratigraphy , Springer-Verlag.
  • Sundberg, F. A., Bennington, J B., Wizevich, M., and Bambach, R. K. 1990. Vertebrate trackways from the Mississippian Bluefield Formation, Mercer County, West Virginia. Ichnos 1:111–124.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1990. Late Paleozoic provinciality in the marine realm. Pp. 307–323 in McKerrow , W. S. and Scotese, C. S. (eds.) Palaeozoic Palaeogeography and Biogeography, Geological Society Memoir 12, London.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1987. The Ordovician-Silurian unconformity in Western Virginia and adjacent West Virginia. Pp. 2–14 in Shumaker, R. C. (Compiler) Appalachian Basin  Industrial Associates ABIA Volume13, Fall, 1987.
  • Gilinsky, N. L. and R. K. Bambach. 1987. Asymmetrical patterns of origination and extinction in higher taxa. Paleobiology 13:427–445.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1986. Phanerozic marine communities. Pp. 407–428 in Jablonski, D. and D. M. Raup (Eds.) Patterns and Processes in the History of Life.  Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
  • Gilinsky, N. L. and R. K. Bambach. 1986. The evolutionary bootstrap: a new approach to the study of taxonomic diversity. Paleobiology 12:251–268.
  • Corrado, J. C., R. E. Weems, P. E. Hare and R. K. Bambach. 1986. Capabilities and limitations of applied aminostratigraphy, as illustrated by analyses of Mulinia lateralis from the Late Cenozoic marine beds near Charleston, South Carolina. South Carolina Geology 30:19–46.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1985. Classes and Adaptive Variety:  The Ecology of  Diversification in Marine Faunas Through the Phanerozoic. Pp. 191–253 in Valentine, James W. (Ed.) Phanerozoic Diversity Patterns:  Profiles in Macroevolution.  Princeton University Press.
  • Springer, Dale A. and R. K. Bambach. 1985. Gradient versus cluster analysis of fossil assemblages: a comparison from the Ordovician of Southwestern Virginia, Lethaia 18:181–198.
  • Bambach, R. K., A. G. Fischer, R. M. Garrels. 1984. Physical-Chemical environments and their geologic history. Pp. 67–91 in Milne, David, David Raup, John Billingham, Karl Niklas and Kevin Padian (Eds.) The Evolution of Complex and Higher Organisms. NASA Special Publication 478.
  • Bambach, R. K., J. C. Briggs, W. A. Clemens, K. J. Niklas, K. Padian, D. M. Raup, P. H. Raven, D. A. Russell, J. J. Sepkoski, Jr., and J. W. Valentine. 1984. Geologic history of complex organisms. Pp. 27–65 in Milne, David, David Raup, John Billingham, Karl Niklas and Kevin Padian (Eds.) The Evolution of Complex and Higher Organisms.NASA Special Publication 478.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1983. Ecospace utilization and guilds in marine communities through the Phanerozoic. Pp. 719–746 in Tevesz, M. and P. McCall (Eds.) Biotic Interactions in Recent and Fossil Benthic Communities. Plenum.
  • Kreisa, R. D. and R. K. Bambach. 1982. The role of storm processes in generating shell beds in Paleozoic shelf environments. Pp. 200–207 in Einsele, G. and A. Seilacher (Eds.) Cyclic and Event Stratification, Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
  • Sepkoski, J. J., R. K. Bambach, D. M. Raup, and J. W. Valentine. 1981. Phanerozoic marine diversity: a strong signal from the fossil record. Nature 293:435–437.
  • Ziegler, A. J., R. K. Bambach, J. T. Parrish, S. F. Barrett, E. Gierlowski, W. C. Parker, A. Raymond, and J. J. Sepkoski. 1981. Paleozoic biogeography and climatology. In Niklas, K. (Ed.) Paleobotany, Paleoecology and Evolution, v. 2, pp. 231–266, Praeger Press, New York.
  • Bambach, R. K., C. R. Scotese and A. M. Ziegler. 1980. Before Pangea: the geographies of the Paleozoic world. American Scientist 68:1:26–38.
  • Scotese, C. R., R. K. Bambach, C. Barton, R. vanDerVoo and A. M. Ziegler. 1979. Paleozoic base maps. Journal of Geology 87:217–277.
  • Ziegler, A. J., C. R. Scotese, W. S. McKerrow, M. E. Johnson and R. K. Bambach. 1979. Paleozoic paleogeography. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 
  • Bambach, R. K. 1977. Species richness in marine benthic habitats through the Phanerozoic. Paleobiology, v. 3, p. 152–167.
  • Richards, R. P. and R. K. Bambach. 1975 Population dynamics of some Paleozoic brachiopods and their paleoecological significance. Journal of Paleontology 49:775–798. 
  • Levinton, J. S. and R. K., Bambach. 1975 A comparative study of Silurian and Recent deposit-feeding bivalve communities, Paleobiology 1:97–124.
  • Walker, K. R. and R. K. Bambach. 1974. Feeding by benthic invertebrates: classification and terminology for paleoecological analysis. Lethaia 7:67–78.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1973. Tectonic deformation of composite-mold fossil bivalvia (Mollusca). American Journal of Science, v. 273-A (Cooper Volume), pp. 409–430.
  • Bambach, R. K. 1971. Adaptations in Grammysia obliquaLethaia 4:169–183.
  • Levinton, J. S. and R. K. Bambach. 1970 Some ecological aspects of bivalve mortality patterns. American Journal of Science 268:97–112.
  • Ziegler, A. M., L. R. M. Cocks and R. K. Bambach. 1968, The composition and structure of Lower Silurian marine communities, Lethaia 1:1–27.
  • Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science (Virginia Museum of Nat'l Hist.), 2012
  • Paleontological Society Medal, 2003
  • Raymond C. Moore Medal, Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM), 1998