Tag: Alistair J. McGowan

My major research focuses on the application of quantitative and statistical techniques to the fossil record. I have been involved in projects that have analysed the evolution of a range of biological groups (flying vertebrates, dinosaurs, trilobites, ammonoids, plants) in space and time, as well as more theoretical projects aimed at developing computer tools for analysing evolutionary patterns and processes. I have worked or studied in Scotland, England, the United States and Germany.

I specialize in the Ammonoidea but I am interested in all cephalopod groups. This was enough to make me moderator of the invertebrates list on askabiologist.org. A little learning is a dangerous thing.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh/Scottish Government and Marie Curie all help to fund my research at present.

I am also a keen ‘hands-on’ conservation worker, doing both practical conservation work (previous jobs included working for Scottish Conservation Projects building mountain footpaths and working as a forester in Wiltshire) and bird surveys with the British Trust for Ornithology and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). If you are reading this in Great Britain or Ireland, I urge you to contribute ANY bird sightings to the Atlas Project 2007–11 website or to BirdTrack.

My other interests include long-distance running, history and philosophy of science, public understanding of statistics and probability and playing a wide range of futile board games.

Contact Details:

Dr. Alistair J. McGowan, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, United Kingdom.

Patterns in Palaeontology: Biodiversity, more than just how many species

Patterns in Palaeontology
by Alistair J. McGowan*1 Introduction: Biological diversity, or biodiversity, shot to prominence among non-specialists in 1992, after the Rio Earth Summit (Fig. 1). Media coverage of the summit did a tremendous amount to raise awareness of the need to gather baseline data on species, and of the spectre of extinction hanging over some of them. The international Convention on Biodiversity declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, and 2011–20 the Decade of Biodiversity. The use of the term biodiversity in the media has increased greatly, and the word is now in general use. Many countries now have biodiversity action plans that start locally and move through various levels and habitat types to the national level (for example, see the United Kingdom’s Biodiversity Action Plan). ...