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Insect response to environmental perturbation during the end Triassic mass extinction

Dr Richard S. Kelly successfully defended his thesis in 2019 after 4 years as a PhD student at the University of Bristol and co-supervised by National Museums Scotland.

Last updated: 3 February 2022

About the research

The end Triassic mass extinction (eTme) was a time of extreme biotic turnover related to high levels of perturbation to the Earth system caused by massive volcanic eruptions of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. All major groups of marine and terrestrial plants and animals were affected with estimates of more than 50% loss of genera. Previous studies of insect occurrence however have found little evidence of a major insect extinction. The main aim of this project was to document insect survival across the end Triassic mass extinction to better understand its effects on insects. 

Relevantly aged entomofaunas exist from several regions globally. The UK has arguably the most useful collection for understanding the eTme with several thousand specimens distributed through relatively well understood stratigraphy around the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. For the purpose of this study and for the benefit of future researchers, this material was stratigraphically and taxonomically revised to current standards before being analysed for changes across the eTme.  

A man kneeling on a rocky beach examining rocks..

Richard Kelly undertaking fieldwork.

Doctoral research project details

Project title

Insect response to environmental perturbation during the end Triassic mass extinction


Dr Richard S. Kelly

Project active

2015 - 2019

University of Bristol Supervisor

Prof Mike Benton - School of Earth Sciences

National Museums Scotland Supervisor

Dr Andrew RossDepartment of Natural Sciences

Research theme


Email icon Dr Andrew Ross

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