Roy E. Plotnick

Research Interests

I have a long-standing interest in the application of mathematical and statistical models to the understanding of paleontological, stratigraphic, and ecological patterns and processes. I am particularly interested in the uses of spatial statistics and in new techniques for the comparison of data and models. I have developed a method known as "lacunarity analysis" for the description of spatial patterns.

This technique has met with wide interest among landscape ecologists. It also has implications for other fields of science. It has, for example, been applied to the analysis of remote-sensing data. I am currently using this method, along with related techniques, to improve our ability to validate stratigraphic models. I am also examining the applications of process models derived from statistical physics, such as percolation theory and kinetic growth models, to ecological and evolutionary dynamics.

This research has major implications in understanding mechanisms and timing of mass extinctions and in our understanding of the processes that control the distribution of species on the landscape.

I am currently using these ideas to advance our understanding of the behavioral basis of trace fossil formation. I am using a combination of concepts from landscape ecology, foraging theory, and artificial life research to produce biologically realistic models of animal behavior in the geological past.

Personal Information
Paleontology Laboratory

Selected recent publications:

Plotnick, R. and Gardner, R., 2002. A general model for simulating the effects of landscape heterogeneity and disturbance on community patterns. Ecological Modeling , 147: 171-197.

Plotnick, R. and Sepkoski, J.J., Jr., 2001. A multiplicative multifractal model for originations and extinctions. Paleobiology , 27: 126-139.

Plotnick, R. and Baumiller, T., 2000. Invention by evolution: functional analysis in paleobiology. In: D.H. Erwin and S.L. Wing (Editors), Deep Time: Paleobiology's Perspective. Paleobiology , 26 (Supplement): 305-323.

Plotnick, R. , 1999. Landscape ecology and quantitative stratigraphy: parallel perspectives on spatial heterogeneity. In: J. Harbaugh et al. (Editors), Numerical Experiments in Stratigraphy. SEPM Special Publication , 62: 271-278.

Plotnick, R.E. , 1999. Creating models for interpreting data. In: J. Scotchmoor and D. Springer (Editors), Evolution: Investigating the Evidence. Paleontological Society Special Publication , 9: 343-360.