Geology and Geological Engineering

Dr. Laurie Anderson
Paleobiology, Paleoecology, Taphonomy
Research Teaching People News & Links Publications CV

Dr. Laurie C. Anderson

Ph.D. (1991), University of Wisconsin-Madison
Professor and Head
Geology and Geological Engineering
Director and Curator of Invertebrates
Museum of Geology
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Rapid City, SD 57701
phone 605-394-1290 or 605-394-1212

Research synopsis

The primary foci of my research are the (paleo)biology, (paleo)ecology, taphonomy and phylogeny of mollusks, particularly the Bivalvia. My work combines field research in both modern and ancient settings, museum studies, and laboratory analyses.

Current projects include:

  • Functional diversity of chemosymbiosis in lucinid bivalves from coastal biomes.
    NSF DEB Dimensions of Biodiversity (2014-2019) In this collaborative study with Annette Engel (University of Tennessee Knoxville) and Barbara Campbell (Clemson University), lucinid (Lucinidae; Bivalvia) chemosymbioses from coastal biomes that range from pristine to highly altered conditions are being examined. We sampled these shallow marine biomes in Florida and The Bahamas, and targeting the Lucininae, Leucosphaerinae and Codakiinae subfamilies within the Lucinidae. Microbial diversity of habitat sediments and water physicochemistry is being used reveal environmental factors controlling lucinid endosymbiont diversity and the evolution of chemosymbiosis within clades. The effects of anthropogenic activities on the functional diversity of chemosymbiotic associations are being evaluated from innovative geochemical and -omics approaches and compared to pristine and low-impact systems. The presence of chemosymbionts and/or degree or type of symbiotic dependence in fossil taxa will provide more accurate data to reconstruct trophic relationships in paleocommunities and extant habitats. This research will fill gaps in understanding about lucinid chemosymbiotic systems and potential biodiversity losses, and will identify how gene expression is altered for lucinids and their endosymbionts in changing ecosystem conditions, particularly due to anthropogenic impact.

  • Digitization TCN: The Cretaceous World: Digitizing Fossils to Reconstruct Evolving Ecosystems in the Western Interior Seaway
    NSF DBI Digitization (2016-2020) With support from this grant we are digitizing and georeferencing an orphaned collection obtained by the Museum of Geology in 2011 from the University of South Dakota (USD). These derive from R. E. Stevenson whose collections focused on Late Cretaceous marine invertebrates from central and western South Dakota. This collection is a valuable addition to TCN efforts because invertebrate fossil localities from South Dakota are underrepresented in data accessible online for biogeographic studies (e.g., at the start of the grant there were 23 collections for Cretaceous marine localities in South Dakota in the PBDB, 7 of which include Mollusca, which make up 84% of species from the 378 localities in the USD collection). All 4,575 lots have stratigraphic information resolved to at least formation along with geographic information resolved at least to county, with half resolved to quarter-quarter section.

  • Evolution of the Corbulidae
    The evolutionary history of the Corbulidae (Bivalvia: Myoidea), especially as it relates to environmental, oceanographic, and climatic changes over the last 23 million years (Neogene) in tropical America, is long-standing project. This work has led to the exploration of topics that include 1) the role of constraint, innovation and heterochrony in the morphologic evolution; 2) phylogenetic reconstruction of Neogene corbulids of tropical America; and 3) phylogenetic reconstruction of freshwater radiation(s) of corbulid bivalves.

  • Coastal Ecosystems in response to perturbations associated with the Deepwater Horizon Spill (2010)
    This project investigates changes in coastal food webs caused by the Deepwater Horizon crude oil spill (2010), in particular, the responses by and effects on oysters and other molluscan primary consumers to the environmental stressors associated with the spill. The work includes histologic analysis of soft tissues, geochemical data from shells, and food web modeling.

contact: Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, 501 E. Saint Joseph St., SDSMT, Rapid City, SD 57701
phone: (605)394-1290 or -1212/ fax: (605)394-6703 / email: