I am the Curator of Geology, and I've been at the Academy since 1999. I hold degrees in Biology (B.Sc.), Oceanography (M.S.) and Geology (Ph.D.). My research is transdisciplinary, with a focus on understanding the evolution of ecological systems, emphasizing paleontology, deep time, and perspectives on complexity dynamics. Most of my research these days centers around global change biology, and how we can further develop our understanding of Earth's past ecosystems to better forecast our future.

I was born in the United Kingdom, and grew up in the beautiful countries of Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of California Davis, and later became a citizen of the United States. I am a strong supporter of immigrants, broad inclusivity of all persons in American society, and the promotion of underrepresented groups in the sciences, including women and ethnic minorities.

Current appointments:

CURATOR: Department of Invertebrate Zoology & Geology, Institute of Biodiversity Science and Sustainability, California Academy of Sciences.

VISITING PROFESSOR: China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China.

RESEARCH PROFESSOR: Dept. of Biology, San Francisco State University.

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE: University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley.

ADJUNCT PROFESSOR: Dept. of Geosciences, San Francisco State University.

Current projects include:

  • NSF OCE, "The Holocene and Anthropocene as windows into the future of marine systems." (co-PIs Hill,Pak). 2018-2020.
    • Paleoceanographic records provide a unique opportunity to understand how ecosystems have responded to rapid environmental change in the past, a topic of significant societal and scientific interest. This project will document ecological changes in nearshore environments over the past several thousand years in Southern California, including investigation of impacts of both past and modern climate change. This work is of particular importance because these coastal ecosystems play critical roles in carbon sequestration, marine fisheries, coastal economies, and cycling of nutrients. The team will utilize recent marine sediments to reconstruct marine microfossil response to both natural and anthropogenic environmental perturbation.
  • NSF EAR, "Integrated Earth Systems Collaborative Research: Terrestrial Late Permian to Early Triassic Earth Systems in NE Pangea: Insights into the Tempo, Effects, and Causes of the End-Permian Mass Extinction." (co-PIs Angielczyk, Crowley, Gastaldo, Griessman, Sidor, Tabor, Yang). 2017-2020.
    • A comprehensive, multidisciplinary investigation of critical intervals of Earth history offers the best insights into the conditions that prevailed before, during, and after major biotic crises. The Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction is used as a model of how biological and physical systems responded to major climate changes, including those attributable to increasing greenhouse gases. The Bogda Mountains in China contain a fully continental stratigraphy spanning the critical interval. This research will enable a precise documentation of the sequence of events on land, a comprehensive analysis of the environmental changes that took place before, during and after the event, and an investigation of how terrestrial animals and plants responded to these changes.
  • NSF EAR, "Collaborative Research: Mesozoic Tethyan paleocommunity dynamics: Modelling complexity and stablity during times of biotic escalation and community restructuring." (C. Tyler, co-PI). 2016-2019.
    • The Mesozoic Era began in the aftermath of Earth's largest mass extinction 251 million years ago, ending 66 million years ago with another mass extinction. This project focuses on ecosystems of an ancient ocean which covered much of western Europe during the Mesozoic and left behind a rich, well-documented fossil record. The groundwork for modern oceans was laid during this time with increasingly complex ecosystems, but the relationship between the complexity and stability of ecosystems is poorly understood. The project will examine that relationship by modeling the complex dynamics of Mesozoic marine ecosystems using food webs, which capture the interactions and energy transfer between species in biological communities.
  • NSF ADBC, "Digitization TCN: Collaborative: Documenting Fossil Marine Invertebrate Communities of the Eastern Pacific. Faunal Responses to Environmental Change over the last 66 million years". (C. Marshall, E. Davis, G. Dietl, J. Druckenmiller, E. Nesbitt, J. Vendetti, co-PIs). 2015-2019.
    • Fossils provide our only direct evidence of past biodiversity and how individual organisms to ecosystems have responded to past and long-term environmental change. This project fills a major gap in the documentation of past environmental change, making available digitized data from the especially rich fossil record of the eastern Pacific marine invertebrate communities of the Cenozoic, the 66 million years that have passed since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Digitization and integration of these data will foster increased accessibility, efficient analysis to understand past change, the identification of factors involved in that change, and enable predictions for how current biodiversity may be impacted by future change. Visit the EPICC project site.
  • NSF ELT, "Earth Life Transitions Collaborative Research: Restructuring of terrestrial environments following the Permian-Triassic mass extinction". (K. Angielczyk and C. Sidor, co-PIs). 2013-2019.
    • Understanding the broad-scale effects of climate change in deep time (between 245 and 120 million years ago) and its associated mass extinction, on terrestrial communities has been hindered by the lack of high-quality regional or global-scale data, as nearly all studies have been restricted to sequences in Russia or South Africa. This research will build on fieldwork in Tanzania and Zambia to bring new data to bear on this major linked event of environmental, climatic, and biotic change. Our team will gather multidisciplinary data (sedimentological, geochemical, vertebrate paleontological, paleobotanical, and geochronological) during two proposed seasons of fieldwork. In the lab, we will use geographic distribution and community food web models to address more general questions about mass extinctions and their subsequent recoveries.

The Roopnarine Lab

  • Dr. Peter Roopnarine, Curator of Geology and Paleontology
  • Christine Garcia, Geology Collections Manager. Project coordinator for the CAS EPICC project.
  • Dr. Ashley Dineen, NSF-funded post-doctoral researcher. Works on both Tethyan Mesozoic marine food webs, and Permian-Triassic terrestrial paleocommunities of northwestern China.
  • Min Zhang, co-advised Ph.D. student at China University of Geosciences, Wuhan. Studying change and dynamics of Cambrian and Ordovician communities of southern China.
  • Courtney Chin, Master's student. Studying the impact of the invasive lionfish on coral reef food webs of the northern Caribbean.
  • Allen Weik, Master's student. Studying transformation and dynamics of marine communities of Seymour Island, Antarctica, during the Cretaceous-Paleocene transition.
  • Marie Angel, curatorial assistant for the "The Holocene and Anthropocene as windows into the future of marine systems" project.
  • Rose Deguzman, research assistant for the EPICC project.


Dineen, A., P. D. Roopnarine, M. Fraiser. 2019. Ecological continuity and transformation after the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. Biology Letters 15. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0902. (Altmetrics)

Roopnarine, P. D., K. D. Angielczyk, A. Weik and A. Dineen. 2019. Ecological persistence, incumbency and reorganization in the Karoo Basin during the Permian-Triassic transition. Earth-Science Reviews 189:244-263. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2018.10.014 (Altmetrics) (Free download) (PaleorXiv)

Roopnarine, P. D. Ecological modeling of paleocommunity food webs, 2018. In Conservation Paleobiology. Science and Practice. Gregory Dietl and Karl Flessa, editors. University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 9780226506692

Roopnarine, P. D. and A. A. Dineen, 2018. Coral reefs in crisis: The reliability of deep-time food web reconstructions as analogs for the present. In Marine Conservation Paleobiology. Carrie Tyler and Chris Schneider, editors. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-73795-9

Roopnarine, Peter D., Kenneth D. Angielczyk, Savannah Olroyd, Sterling J. Nesbitt, Jennifer Botha-Brink, Brandon R. Peecook, Michael O. Day, Roger M. H. Smith, 2018. Comparative Ecological Dynamics Of Permian-Triassic Communities From The Karoo, Luangwa And Ruhuhu Basins Of Southern Africa. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 37(6): 254-272. (Altmetrics)

Marshall, C. R. et al., 2018. Quantifying the dark data in museum fossil collections as palaeontology undergoes a second digital revolution. Biology Letters 14:20180431. (Altmetrics)

Printrakoon, C., P. D. Roopnarine and T. Yeemin, 2018. Ecology of Pinnidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia) from The Gulf of Thailand. Acta Oceanologica Sinica https://doi.org/10.1007/s13131-018-1230-4.

Myhre, S. E., K. J. Kroeker, T. M. Hill, P. D. Roopnarine and J. P. Kennett, 2017. Community benthic paleoecology from high-resolution climate records: Mollusca and Foraminifera in post-glacial environments of the California Margin. Quaternary Science Reviews 155: 179-197. (Altmetrics)

Roopnarine, P. D., 2016. Ancient food web interactions. Access Science, McGraw-Hill Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1036/1097-8542.YB160510

Roopnarine, P. D. and K. D. Angielczyk, 2016. The stability of ecological communities as an agent of evolutionary selection: Evidence from the Permian Triassic mass extinction. In Evolutionary Theory: A Hierarchical Perspective. Niles Eldredge, Telmo Pievani, Emanuele Serrelli, and Ilya Tëmkin, editors. University of Chicago Press. p. 307-333.

Roopnarine, P. D. and K. D. Angielczyk. 2015. Community stability and selective extinction during the Permian-Triassic mass extinction. Science 350: 90-93. DOI: 10.1126/science.aab1371 (Abstract & reprint) (Altmetrics)

Moffitt, S. E., T. M. Hill, P. D. Roopnarine and J. P. Kennett. 2015. Response of seafloor ecosystems to abrupt global climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112: 4684-4689. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1417130112 (Altmetrics)

Roopnarine, P. D. 2014. Humans are apex predators. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi/10.1073/pnas.1323645111 (Altmetrics)

L. A. Rocha et al. 2014. Specimen collection: An essential tool. Science. 344:814-815. (Altmetrics)

Schreiber, H. A., P. D. Roopnarine and S. J. Carlson. 2014. Three-dimensional morphological variability of Recent rhynchonellide brachiopod crura. Paleobiology. 40:640-658.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2013. Ecology and the Tragedy of the Commons. Sustainability 5:749-773. (Altmetrics)

Roopnarine, P. D. 2013. Omslagpunt voor de aarde (Tipping the Biosphere). In Meer!, M. Thieme (ed.). Uitgeverij Jan van Arkel, Netherlands. p. 87-98. ( English translation)

Goodwin, D. H., D. Gillkin and P. Roopnarine. 2013. Preliminary evaluation of potential stable isotope and trace element productivity proxies in the oyster Crassostrea gigas. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 373:88-97.

Simons, J. D. et al. 2013. Building a fisheries trophic interaction database for management and modeling research in the Gulf of Mexico large marine ecosystem. Bulletin of Marine Science 89:135-160.

Vermeij, G. J. and P. D. Roopnarine. 2013. Reining in the Red Queen: The dynamics of adaptation and extinction re-examined. Paleobiology 39:560-575.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2012. Red queen for a day: models of symmetry and selection in paleoecology. Evolutionary Ecology 26:1-10. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-011-9494-6

Roopnarine, P. D. and K. D. Angielczyk. 2012.The evolutionary palaeoecology of species and the tragedy of the commons. Biology Letters 8:147-150. DOI:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0662 (Altmetrics)

Roopnarine, P. D. and R. Hertog. 2012. Detailed food web networks of three Greater Antillean coral reef systems: The Cayman Islands, Cuba and Jamaica. Dataset Papers in Ecology Vol. 23, 9 p.

Barnosky, A. et al. 2012. Approaching a state-shift in Earth's biosphere. Nature 486:52-58. (Altmetrics)

Mitchell, J. S., P. D. Roopnarine and K. D. Angielczyk. 2012. Late Cretaceous restructuring of terrestrial communities facilitated the End-Cretaceous mass extinction in North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:18857-18861. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1202196109. (Altmetrics)

Kavanaugh, D. H., S. L. Archambeault, P. D. Roopnarine and J. Ledford. 2011. A re-consideration of the taxonomic status of Nebria lacustris Casey (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Nebriini) based on multiple datasets - a single species or a species complex?. Zookeys 147:199-228.

Mindell DP, Fisher BL, Roopnarine P, Eisen J, Mace GM, et al. 2011. Aggregating, Tagging and Integrating Biodiversity Research. PLoS ONE 6(8): e19491. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019491

Roopnarine, P. D. 2010. Networks, extinction and paleocommunity food webs. in J. Alroy and G. Hunt, eds., Quantitative Methods in Paleobiology, The Paleontological Society Papers, 16: 143-161.

Goodwin, D. H., A. Cohen and P. D. Roopnarine 2010. Forensics on the half shell: A sclerochronological investigation of a modern biological invasion in San Francisco Bay, United States. Palaios, 25: 742-753.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2009. Ecological modeling of paleocommunity food webs. in G. Dietl and K. Flessa, eds., Conservation Paleobiology, The Paleontological Society Papers, 15: 195-220.

Bennington, J. B. et al. 2009. Critical Issues of Scale in Paleoecology. Palaios, 24: 1-4.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2008. Ecological informatics: Catastrophe theory. In Jørgensen, S. E., editor, Encyclopedia of Ecology. Elsevier Press. p. 531-536.

Roopnarine, P. D., Signorelli, J., and Laumer, C. 2008. Systematic, biogeographic and microhabitat-based morphometric variation of the bivalve Anomalocardia squamosa (Bivalvia: Veneridae: Chioninae) in Thailand. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 18:95-102.

Goodwin, D. H., Anderson, L. C. and P. D. Roopnarine 2008. Evolutionary origins of novel conchologic growth patterns in tropical American corbulid bivalves. Evolution and Development, 10:642-656.

Vermeij, G. J., and Roopnarine, P. D. 2008. The coming Arctic invasion. Science, 321: 780-781.

Roopnarine, P. D., Angielczyk, K. D., Wang, S. C., and Hertog, R. 2007. Trophic network models explain instability of Early Triassic terrestrial communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 274:2077-2086.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2006. Extinction cascades and catastrophe in ancient food webs. Paleobiology, 32:1–19.

Roopnarine, P. D., Angielczyk, K. D., and Hertog, R. 2006. Comment on “Statistical independence of escalatory ecological trends in Phanerozoic marine invertebrates”. Science, 314:925d.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2005. The likelihood of stratophenetic-based hypotheses of genealogical succession. Special Papers in Palaeontology, 73:143–157.

Roopnarine, P. D., Murphy, M. A., and Buening, N. 2005. Microevolutionary dynamics of the Early Devonian conodont Wurmiella from the Great Basin of Nevada. Paleontologia Electronica, 8(2):16p.

Anderson, L. C. and Roopnarine, P. D. 2005. Role of constraint and selection in the morphologic evolution of Caryocorbula (Mollusca: Corbulidae) from the Caribbean Neogene. Paleontologia Electronica, 8(2):18p.

Angielczyk, K. D., Roopnarine, P. D., and Wang, S. C. 2005. Modeling the role of primary productivity disruption in end-Permian extinctions , Karoo Basin, South Africa. In Lucas, S. G. and Zeigler, K. F., editors, The Nonmarine Permian, number 30 in New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, pages 16–23.

Elser, J. J., Schampel, J. H., Kyle, M., Watts, J., Carson, E. W., Dowling, T. E., Tang, C., and Roopnarine, P. D. 2005. Response of grazing snails to phosphorus enrichment of modern stromatolitic microbial communities. Freshwater Biology, 50:1826–1835.

Dettman, D. L., Flessa, K. W., Roopnarine, P. D., Schöne, B. R., and Goodwin, D. H. 2004. The use of oxygen isotope variation in shells of estuarine mollusks as a quantitative record of seasonal and annual Colorado River discharge. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 68:1253–1263.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2003. Analysis of rates of morphologic evolution. Annual Reviews of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 34:605–632.

Anderson, L. C. and Roopnarine, P. D. 2003. Evolution and phylogenetic relationships of Neogene Corbulidae (Bivalvia: Myoidea) of Tropical America. Journal of Paleontology, 77:1086–1102.

Tang, C. M. and Roopnarine, P. D. 2003. Complex morphological variability in complex evaporitic systems: Thermal spring snails from the Chihuahuan Desert, Mexico. Astrobiology, 3:597–607.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2002. Book review: Evolutionary History of the Bivalvia. Veliger.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2002. Empiricism at all levels. “Evolutionary Patterns. Growth, Form, and Tempo in the Fossil Record”. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 17:441–442. (Book review).

Schöne, B. R., Goodwin, D. H., Flessa, K. W., Dettman, D. L., and Roopnarine, P. D. 2002. Sclerochronology and growth of the bivalve mollusks Chione fluctifraga and Chione cortezi in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. Veliger, 45:45–54.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2001. The description and classification of evolutionary mode in stratophenetic series: A computational approach. Paleobiology, 27:446–465.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2001. A history of diversification, extinction, and invasion in tropical America as derived from species-level phylogenies of chionine genera (Family Veneridae). Journal of Paleontology, 75:644–658.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2001. Testing the hypothesis of heterochrony in morphometric data: Lessons from a bivalved mollusk. In Zelditch, M. L., editor, Beyond Heterochrony: The Evolution of Development, pages 271–303. John Wiley and Sons.

Roopnarine, P. D. 2000. Book review: Bivalves, an eon of evolution. Veliger.

Roopnarine, P. D. and Vermeij, G. J. 2000. One species becomes two: The case of Chione cancellata, the resurrected C. elevata, and a phylogenetic analysis of Chione. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 66:517–534.

Tang, C. M. and Roopnarine, P. D. 2000. Cretaceous rudist reef mounds of southern Arizona: An educational opportunity for active learning. In McCord, R. D. and Boaz, D., editors, Mesa Southwest Museum Bulletin. Southwest Paleontological Symposium: Proceedings 2000, number 7, pages 65–71.

Roopnarine, P. D. and Beussink, A. 1999. Extinction, geographic replacement, and escalation of the bivalve Chione in the Late Neogene of Florida. Paleontologia Electronica, 2(1). 24p.

Roopnarine, P. D., Byars, G., and Fitzgerald, P. 1999. Anagenetic evolution, stratophenetic patterns, and random walk models. Paleobiology, 25(1):41–57.

Roopnarine, P. D. 1998. Translating trees into taxonomy within Veneridae (Bivalvia): A reply to Harte. Malacologia, 39(1–2):221–224.

Roopnarine, P. D., Fitzgerald, P., Byars, G., and Kilb, K. 1998. Coincident boron profiles of bivalves from the Gulf of California: Implications for the calculation of paleosalinities. Palaios, 13:395–400.

Roopnarine, P. D. 1997. Endemism and extinction of a new genus of Chionine (Bivalvia: Veneridae) bivalve from the late Neogene of Venezuela. Journal of Paleontology, 71(6):1039–1046.

Roopnarine, P. D. 1996. Systematics, biogeography and extinction of chionine bivalves (Early Oligocene - Recent) in the Late Neogene of tropical America. Malacologia, 38(1–2):103–142.

Roopnarine, P. D. 1995. A re-evaluation of stasis between the species Chione erosa and C. cancellata (Bivalvia: Veneridae). Journal of Paleontology, 69(2):280–287.

Roopnarine, P. D. 1994. Systematics, Biogeography and Extinction of chionine bivalves in the Neogene of tropical America. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California Davis. 280 pp.

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