Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Peter Harries, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dana Geary, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Matt Olney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jonathan Wynn, Ph.D.


Bivalvia, Florida, Plio-Pleistocene, Richness, Shell-breaking predation


During the last two decades, a broad spectrum of short- and long-term studies on different taxonomic groups has enriched our understanding about how dynamics of taxonomic and ecological diversification have changed through geologic time. There are two major issues that have impacted these studies: the quality and quantity of data used are often insufficient in various ways and the methods used may produce results that are more equivocal than supposed. To investigate these issues more fully, this dissertation focuses on studies on two major aspects: 1) short-term studies examining the nature of successful and unsuccessful predatory attacks on Plio-Pleistocene bivalves; and 2) a Phanerozoic-scale project examining trends in bivalve richness and ecological differentiation. The short-term studies, focusing on shell-breaking predation on bivalves, have shown that the existing methodologies which only study either successful or unsuccessful component of predation in isolation are fraught with potential issues in developing effective interpretations. When these two components (i.e., successful and unsuccessful) are studied in tandem as was done here, however, traces of predation can be used to better constrain potential paleoecological interpretations related to predation intensity, predator's attack strategies, and predator-prey dynamics. The long-term project includes two Phanerozoic studies on bivalves' taxonomic and ecological richness. The taxonomic study has shown how the elements included in various datasets used can affect the Phanerozoic richness trajectory of bivalves. The revised and newly compiled dataset developed here reveals that bivalves showed three major episodes of diversification - a Ordovician radiation of orders and families, a Mesozoic diversification of families, and a dramatic Cenozoic rise in the total number of genera - all of which were synchronous with ecological diversification in terms of appearances of new life forms capable of colonizing new ecospace (i.e., cubes). However, these synchronous changes in taxonomic-ecologic richness were influenced by many biotic (e.g., predation, competition, and adaptive innovations) and abiotic (e.g., nutrient availability, sea level, and temperature) components, for which I propose a multilevel mixed model such that all these components can be studied in tandem.