Roy E. Plotnick
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
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.
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):
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.