Ecological studies suggest that rare taxa (forms of life) are more likely to go extinct than abundant ones, but the relationship between rarity and extinction in the fossil record is poorly understood. The goal of my research is to use the fossil record of marine organisms to examine the link between rarity and extinction across both background and mass extinction events. I'm focusing specifically on mollusks (including clams and snails) that lived along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. during the past 65 million years. To accomplish this, I will collect data on fossil abundance, habitat, and geographic range from the field, museum collections, and paleontological literature. This research is important because it's one of the first attempts to explore the relationship between fossil abundance and extinction and will contribute substantially to our understanding of fossil diversity along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.
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