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Staff Profile

Prof David Harper, BSc, ARSM (Imperial College, London) 1975, PhD (Queen’s University, Belfast) 1979, DSc (Queen’s University, Belfast) 2005, C.Geol., EurGeol.

Professor of Palaeontology in the Department of Earth Sciences
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42307
Room number: Rm 330
Principal of Van Mildert College
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 47143
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 45991

Contact Prof David Harper (email at david.harper@durham.ac.uk)

Biography


1980 — Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Oslo)

1981 – 1984  — Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Dundee)

1984 – 1998  — Lecturer — Reader in Palaeontology and Stratigraphy (University College, Galway)

1998 – 2011  — Professor in Palaeontology (University of Copenhagen) 

2002 – 2011  — Deputy Head — Head of Geology (Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen) 

2004 – present  — Elected Foreign Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

2008 – present  — Einstein Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences

2013 – present  — Honorary Research Fellow, The Natural History Museum

2011 – present  — Principal of Van Mildert College, Durham University


2011 – 2013  — Deputy Head of Colleges (Research and Scholarly Activities)

2012 – present  — Deputy Director, Climate Impacts Research Centre, Durham University

Career Research Highlights


My initial research on the stratigraphy and palaeontology of the Ordovician rocks of the Girvan district was largely monographic and was recognised by the Clough Memorial Award from the Edinburgh Geological Society. The description of Palaeozoic Brachiopoda using both conventional and statistical methodologies continues to be a focus of my research. The former led to an invitation to jointly revise with Sir Alwyn Williams various groups of Brachiopoda for the 'Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology'; the latter has led to the development of microcomputer software - 'PALSTAT' package, which has now been completely rewritten and relaunched as 'PAST' in collaboration with Dr Øyvind Hammer (University of Oslo). The integration of such data into models of global biostratigraphy together with those for the environmental and spatial distributions of the phyla are continuing objectives within my research programme. This programme has been recognised with the award of the Lyell Fund from the Geological Society. Currently my main research interests have been modified regionally to include studies on the Lower Palaeozoic rocks in NE and N Greenland, Chile, China (including Tibet), Denmark, Estonia, Norway and Russia and my research in Greenland has been recognized by the award of Crown Prince Frederik's Fund. During the last ten years my focus has moved to target some of the larger scale processes in the history of life. Together with a range of colleagues, new models for biotic change and distributions through the Early Palaeozoic, particularly targeting the Cambrian Explosion, Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event and the end-Ordovician extinction, are being developed and their relationships to climatic and environmental changes are being assessed through a range of multidisciplinary techniques.


Committee and Society Service


2014 — Chair of evaluation panel, Geography and Geology programmes in the University of the West Indies

2014  President-elect Palaeontological Association

2012 – present  — Vice President, Palaeontographical Society

2012 – present  — NERC Peer Review College

2008 – present  — Voting member of the International Commission for Stratigraphy

2008 – present  — Chairman, International Subcommission on Ordovician Stratigraphy

2008 – 2009  — Member of evaluation panel of Earth Science Research Centres in Portugal

2007 – present  — Member of IGCP (UNESCO) scientific panel

2006 – 2010  — President, International Palaeontological Association

2005 – 2009; 2012  — Member of Earth Sciences panel, Swedish Research Council

2004 – 2009  — Co-leader IGCP (UNESCO) project 503

2004 – present  — Voting member of the International Ordovician Subcommission

2002 – 2004  — Vice President Palaeontological Association

1996 – 1998  — Vice President Irish Geological Association


Conferences and Workshops (selected)

2014 — Co-convener 'Ordovician biotas of Gondwana: responses to global climatic and eustatic events, and their biogeographic relationships within the Ordovician World’. 4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina

2013 — Co-convener ‘The Cambrian Explosion – Understanding Earth systems at the origin of modern ecosystems’ Lyell Meeting, Geological Society, London

2012  — Co-convener 'International Subcommission on Ordovician stratigraphy: Ordovician intercontinental correlations: developing global and regional chronostratigraphy', International Geological Congress, Brisbane

2012  — Co-convener 'Out of Our Depth: The Paleontology, Ichnology, and Sedimentology of Deeper Water Environments in the Ancient Tropics', Annual Geological Society of America Meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina

2010  — Co-chair of science and vice-chair of executive committees for the 3rd International Palaeontological Congress, London

2009  — Organizer Final Meeting of IGCP 503, Copenhagen

2005  — Organizer 5th International Brachiopod Congress, Copenhagen

2003  — Co-convener 'Environmental and biological impact of the end Ordovician glaciation', EUG, Nice.

2002  — Co-organizer '4th Gilbert Larwood Symposium', Copenhagen

2001  — Organizer of the Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Copenhagen

2000  — Co-convener 'History of Biodiversity', Geosciences 2000, Manchester

2000  — Co-convener 'Biostratigraphy and Biogeography', Millennium Brachiopod Congress, London

2000  — Co-convener 'Tropics through Time', Annual Geological Society of America Meeting, Reno, Nevada

1998  — Co-organiser of Annual Irish Geological Research Meeting, University of Galway

1995  — Organiser of Annual Meeting of Palaeontological Association, University College, Galway


Editorial Roles


2014 - present — Review Editor, Frontiers in Paleontology

2009 – present — Advisory editor, Journal of the Geological Society, London

2008 – present  — Associate Editor, Paleontological Contributions

2005 – present  — Associate Editor, Palaeoworld

2004 – present  — Associate Editor, Swiss Journal of Geosciences

2004 – 2008  — Chair of Publications Board, Palaeontological Association

2003 – present  — Editor, Lethaia

1998 – 2012  — Associate Editor, Geological Journal

1996 – 2002  — Editor, for the Palaeontological Association's journal, Palaeontology


Recent and Current Grants (Selected)


2006 – 2007  — Geocenter København (Geocenter Copenhagen): Mapping Denmark's and Greenland's palaeobiodiversity: An integrated database for Denmarks and Greenlands fossils. 400,000 DKK

2006  — Forskningsrådet for Natur og Univers (Danish Research Council): Rapid transitions from Greenhouse-Icehouse-Greenhouse climates 440 million year ago: New investigations of the palaeotropics in Early Palaeozoic North Greenland. 850,000 DKK

2006  — Forskningsrådet for Natur og Univers (Danish Research Council): Fossil microorganisms and ultrastructures in time and space (SEM equipment). 850,000 DKK

2006 – 2007  — INTERREG IIIA, Øresundsregionen: Integrated Higher Education in Geology (with Prof. Per Ahlberg, Lunds Universitet, Sverige). 500,000 SEK.

2007 – 2009  — Geocenter København (Geocenter Copenhagen): Monsters from deep time: Exhibition on Sirius Passet fossils. 450,000 DKK

2007  — TK-Foundation (Galathea III expedition). Ordovician in the roots of the Andes (with Prof. Lars Stemmerik). 300,000 DKK

2008 – 2012  — FNU (Danish Research Council) The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE). DKK 4,000,000 DKK

2009  — Geocenter Copenhagen: Expedition to Peary Land: Sirius Passet fauna and the Cambrian explosion. DKK 1,300,000

2010  — Carlsberg Foundation: Aspects of Modern and Ancient diversity on the Tibetan Plateau. 500,000 DKK

2011  — Carlsberg Foundation: The Dawn of Phanerozoic ecosystems. DKK 500,000

2011  — Agouron Institute: The Cambrian Explosion in the Sirius Pass, North Greenland. DKK 900,000. (co applicant with Prof. Don Canfield).

2012 – 2014  — FNU (Danish Research Council): Unravelling early animal evolution. DKK 2,000,000


Research Interests

  • Fossil brachiopods, their taxonomy, distribution, ecology and phylogeny.
  • Major events in the history life, e.g. Cambrian Explosion, Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event and end Ordovician extinction
  • Numerical methods in palaeontology

Research Groups

Department of Earth Sciences

  • Climate and Environmental Change

Selected Publications

Books: authored

  • Rong Jiayu, Huang Bing Zhan Ren-bin & Harper, D.A.T. (2013). Latest Ordovician and earliest Silurian brachiopods succeeding the Hirnantia fauna in south-east China. Palaeontological Association.
  • Rasmussen, C.M.O., Harper, D.A.T. & Blodgett, R.B. (2012). Late Ordovician Brachiopods from West-Central Alaska: systematics, ecology and palaeobiogeography. Fossils and Strata 58, Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Benton, M.J. & Harper, D.A.T. (2009). Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record.

Journal papers: academic

  • Jakobsen, K.G., Brock, G.A., Nielsen, A.T., Topper, T.P. & Harper, D.A.T. (Published). Middle Ordovician brachiopods from the Stairway Sandstone, Amadeus Basin, central Australia. Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology 1-19.
  • Jakobsen, K.G., Nielsen, A.T., Harper, D.A.T. & Brock, G.A. (Published). Trilobites from the Middle Ordovician Stairway Sandstone, Amadeus Basin, central Australia. Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology 1-26.
  • Jagt, J.W.M., Thuy, B., Donovan, S.K., Stohr, S., Portell, R.W., Pickerill, R.K., Harper, D.A.T., Lindsay, W. & Jackson, T.A. (2014). A starfish bed in the Middle Miocene Grand Bay Formation of Carriacou, The Grenadines (West Indies). Geological Magazine 151(3): 381-393.
  • Donovan, S.K., Harper, D.A.T., Portell, R.W. & Renema, W. (2014). Neoichnology and implications for stratigraphy of reworked Upper Oligocene oysters, Antigua, West Indies. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association (in press): 8 pp.
  • Topper, T.P., Skovsted, C.B., Harper, D.A.T. & Ahlberg, P. (2013). A Bradoriid and Brachiopod Dominated Shelly Fauna from the Furongian(Cambrian) of Västergötland, Sweden. Journal of Paleontology 87(1): 69-83.
  • Topper, T.P., Harper, D.A.T. & Brock, G.A. (2013). Ancestral billingsellides and the evolution and phylogenetic relationships of early rhynchonelliform brachiopods. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology in press.
  • Stein, M., Budd, G.E., Peel, J.S. & Harper, D.A.T. (2013). Arthroaspis n. gen., a common element of the Sirius Passet Lagerstatte (Cambrian, North Greenland), sheds light on trilobite ancestry. BMC Evolutionary Biology 13(1).
  • Harper, D.A.T., Rasmussen, C.M.O., Liljeroth, M., Blodgett, R.B., Candela, Y., Jin Jisuo, Percival, I.G., Rong Jiayu, Villas, E. & Zhan Renbin (2013). Biodiversity, biogeography and phylogeography of Ordovician rhynchonelliform brachiopods. Geological Society, London, Memoirs 38(1): 127-144.
  • Zuykov, M., Pelletier, E. & Harper, D.A.T. (2013). Bivalve mollusks in metal pollution studies: from bioaccumulation to biomonitoring. Chemosphere 93: 201-208.
  • Harper, D.A.T. & Servais, T. (2013). Early Palaeozoic biogeography and palaeogeography: towards a modern synthesis. Geological Society, London, Memoirs 38(1): 1-3.
  • Harper, D.A.T., Hammarlund, E.U. & Rasmussen, C.M.Ø. (2013). End Ordovician extinctions: A coincidence of causes. Gondwana Research in press.
  • Huang Bing, Harper, D.A.T. & Hammer, O. (2013). Introduction to PAST, a comprehensive statistics software package for paleontological data analysis. Acta Palaeontologica Sinica 52: 161-181.
  • Frisk, Å & Harper, D.A.T. (2013). Late Ordovician brachiopod distribution and ecospace partitioning in the Tvären crater system, Sweden. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 369: 114-124.
  • Topper, T.P., Skovsted, C.B, Peel, J.S. & Harper, D.A.T. (2013). Moulting in the lobopodian Onychodictyon from the lower Cambrian of Greenland. Lethaia 46: 490-495.
  • Servais, T., Cecca, F., Harper, D.A.T., Isozaki, Y. & Mac Niocaill, C. (2013). Palaeozoic palaeogeographical and palaeobiogeographical nomenclature. Geological Society, London, Memoirs 38(1): 25-33.
  • Jin Jisuo, Harper, D.A.T., Cocks, L.R.M., McCausland, P.J.A., Rasmussen, C.M.Ø. & Sheehan, P.M. (2013). Precisely locating the Ordovician equator in Laurentia. Geology 41(2): 107-110.
  • Topper, T.P., Harper, D.A.T. & Ahlberg, P. (2013). Reappraisal of the brachiopod Acrotreta socialis von Seebach, 1865: clarifying 150 years of confusion. GFF 135(2): 191-203.
  • Donovan, S.K., Harper, D.A.T., Zhan Renbin, Stemmerik, L., Liu Jianbo & Stouge, S. (2012). A primitive cladid crinoid from the Jiacun Group, Tibet (Darriwilian, Middle Ordovician). Geological Journal 47: 653-660.
  • Hammarlund, E.U., Dahl, T.W., Harper, D.A.T., Bond, D.P.G., Nielsen, A.T., Bjerrum, C.J., Schovsbo, N.H., Schönlaub, H.-P., Zalasiewicz, J.A. & Canfield, D.E. (2012). A sulfidic driver for the end-Ordovician mass extinction. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 331-332: 128-139.
  • Jin J., Harper, D.A.T., Rasmussen, J.A. & Sheehan, P.M. (2012). Late Ordovician massive-bedded Thalassinoides ichnofacies along the palaeoequator of Laurentia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 367-368: 73-88.
  • Mangano, M.G., Bromley, R.G. Harper, D.A.T., Nielsen, A.T., Smith, M.P & Vinther, J. (2012). Nonbiomineralized carapaces in Cambrian seafloor landscapes (Sirius Passet, Greenland): Opening a new window into early Phanerozoic benthic ecology. Geology 40(6): 519-522.
  • Zuykov, M., Vinarski, M. Pelletier, E. Demers, S. & Harper, D.A.T. (2012). Shell malformations in seven species of pond snail (Gastropoda, Lymnaeidae): analysis of large museum collections. Zoosystematics and Evolution 88(2): 365-368.
  • Vinther, J., Eibye-Jacobsen, D. & Harper, D.A.T. (2011). An Early Cambrian stem polychaete with pygidial cirri. Biology Letters 7(6): 929-932.
  • Hughes, N.C., Myrow, P.M., McKenzie, N.R. Harper, D.A.T. , Bhargava, O.N., Tangri, S.K., Ghalley, K.S. & Fanning, C.M. (2011). Cambrian rocks and faunas of the Wachi La, Black Mountains, Bhutan. Geological Magazine 148(03): 351-379
  • Rasmussen, C.M.O. & Harper, D.A.T. (2011). Did the amalgamation of continents drive the end Ordovician mass extinctions? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 311(1-2): 48-62.
  • Zuykov, M., Gudkov, D., Vinarski, M., Pelletier, E., Harper, D.A.T. & Demers, S. (2011). Does radioactive contamination affect the shell morphology of the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl NPP (Ukraine)? The Environmentalist 31(4): 369-375.
  • Rasmussen, C.M.O. & Harper, D.A.T. (2011). Interrogation of distributional data for the End Ordovician crisis interval: where did disaster strike? Geological Journal 46: 478-500.
  • Stouge, S., Christiansen, J.L., Harper, D.A.T., Houmark-Nielsen, M., Kristiansen, K., MacNiocaill, C. & Buchard-Westergaard, B. (2011). Neoproterozoic (Cryogenian–Ediacaran) deposits in East and North-East Greenland. Geological Society, London, Memoirs 36(1): 581-592.
  • Frisk, Å. & Harper, D.A.T. (2011). Palaeoenvironmental aspects of Late Ordovician Sericoidea shell concentrations in an impact crater, Tvaren, Sweden. Lethaia 44(4): 383-396.
  • Zuykov, M., Harper, D.A.T. & Pelletier, E. (2011). Revision of the Ordovician brachiopod genus Noetlingia Hall and Clarke, 1893. Journal of Paleontology 85(3): 595-598.
  • Vinther, J., Smith, M.P. & Harper, D.A.T. (2011). Vetulicolians from the Lower Cambrian Sirius Passet Lagerstatte, North Greenland, and the polarity of morphological characters in basal deuterostomes. Palaeontology 54(3): 711-719.
  • Huang Bing, Harper, D.A.T., Zhan Renbin & Rong Jiayu (2010). Can the Lilliput Effect be detected in the brachiopod faunas of South China following the terminal Ordovician mass extinction? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 285(3-4): 277-286.
  • Azmy, K., Stouge, S., Christiansen, J.L., Harper, D.A.T, Knight, I. & Boyce, D. (2010). Carbon-isotope stratigraphy of the Lower Ordovician succession in Northeast Greenland: Implications for correlations with St. George Group in western Newfoundland (Canada) and beyond. Sedimentary Geology 225(1-2): 67-81
  • Candela, Y. & Harper, D.A.T. (2010). Late Ordovician (Katian) brachiopods from the Southern Uplands of Scotland: biogeographic patterns on the edge of Laurentia. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 100(03): 253-274
  • Harper, D.A.T., Parkes, M.A. & McConnell, B.J. (2010). Late Ordovician (Sandbian) brachiopods from the Mweelrea Formation, South Mayo, western Ireland: stratigraphic and tectonic implications. Geological Journal 45: 445-450
  • Dahlqvist, P., Harper, D.A.T. & Wickstrom, L. (2010). Late Ordovician shelly faunas from Jamtland: palaeocommunity development along the margin of the Swedish Caledonides. Bulletin of Geosciences 85: 505-512.
  • Munnecke, A., Calner, M., Harper, D.A.T. & Servais, T. (2010). Ordovician and Silurian sea-water chemistry, sea level, and climate: A synopsis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 296(3-4): 389-413.
  • Servais, T., Owen, A.W., Harper, D.A.T., Kroger, B. & Munnecke, A. (2010). The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE): The palaeoecological dimension. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 294(3-4): 99-119.
  • Rasmussen, C.M.O., Ebbestad, J.O.R. & Harper, D.A.T. (2010). Unravelling a Late Ordovician pentameride (Brachiopoda) hotspot from the Boda Limestone, Siljan district, central Sweden. GFF 132(3-4): 133-152.
  • Rasmussen, C.M.O., Nielsen, A.T. & Harper, D.A.T. (2009). Ecostratigraphical interpretation of lower Middle Ordovician East Baltic sections based on brachiopods. Geological Magazine 146(05): 717-731.
  • Jin, J., Harper, D.A.T. & Rasmussen, C.M.O. (2009). Sulcipentamerus (Pentamerida, Brachiopoda) from the Lower Silurian Washington Land Group, North Greenland. Palaeontology 52(2): 385-399.
  • Schmitz, B., Harper, D.A.T., Peucker-Ehrenbrink, B., Stouge, S., Alwmark, C., Cronholm, A., Bergstrom, S.M., Tassinari, M. & Xiaofeng, W-F. (2008). Asteroid breakup linked to the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. Nature Geoscience 1(1): 49-53.
  • Harper, D.A.T. & Pickerill, R.K. (2008). Generation of brachiopod-dominated shell beds in the Miocene rocks of Carriacou, Lesser Antilles. Geological Journal 43(5): 573-581.

Book chapters: online

  • Stouge, S., Boyce, W.D. Christiansen, J.L. Harper, D.A.T. & Knight, I. (2013). Development of the Lower Cambrian–Middle Ordovician Carbonate Platform: North Atlantic Region. In The great American carbonate bank: The geology and economic resources of the Cambrian-Ordovician Sauk megasequence of Laurentia. Derby, J. R., Fritz, R.D., Longacre, S.A. Morgan, W.A. & Sternbach, C.A. AAPG Memoir. 98: 597-626.

Edited works: journals

  • Harper, D.A.T. & Servais, T. (2013). Early Palaeozoic Biogeography and Palaeogeography. 38 Geological Society, London.
  • Donovan, S.K. & Harper, D.A.T. (2011). Early Palaeozoic ecosystems, environments and evolution. Geological Journal, 46
  • Munnecke, A., Calner, M. & Harper, D.A.T. (2010). Early Palaeozoic sea level and climate. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 296 Elsevier.
  • Cusack, M. & Harper, D.A.T. (2008). Brachiopod Research into the Third Millennium. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth and Environmental Sciences, 98
  • Harper, D.A.T., Nielsen, C. & Long, S.L. (2008). Brachiopoda: Fossil and Recent. Fossils and Strata, 54

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Supervises