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We work on understanding how ecology impacts evolution through deep-time from the origins of animals to the present. The first animal communities are found in the Ediacaran time period, 580 million years ago.  The oldest of these communities consisted of sessile benthic organisms that lived in the deep-sea.  Therefore, to understand how macro-ecology has changed through deep-time, we study a wide range of different benthic communities from the fossil record and in the modern Antarctic and deep-sea. Using statistical and theoretical models we reconstruct how species interacted with each other and their environment and explore how these relationships influence macro-evolutionary patterns over the last 580 million years.

Current research topics include:

  • Community ecology and diversification of early animal communities
  • Drivers of deep-sea ecosystems through deep-time
  • Antarctic benthic ecology and the identification of key species

Key publications

Mitchell, EG, Kenchington, CG, Liu, G, CG, Harris, S and Wilby, PR. The relative influence of niche versus neutral processes on Ediacaran organisms.  Ecology Letters

Mitchell, EG, and Kenchington, CG. 2018 The utility of height for Ediacaran organisms, Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2(8),1218-1222.

Mitchell, EG, Kenchington, CG, Harris, S and Wilby, PR. 2018 Revealing rangeomorph species characters using spatial analyses, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

Mitchell, EG and Butterfield, NJ. 2018. Spatial analyses of Ediacaran Communities at Mistaken Point. Paleobiology 44, 40-57

Mitchell, EG, Kenchington, CG, Liu, G, Matthews, JJ and Butterfield, NJ. 2015 Reconstructing the reproductive mode of an Ediacaran macro-organism. Nature (524) 343–346


Contact Details

Group Leader

Dr Emily Mitchell

Department of Zoology
University of Cambridge
Downing St