We study modern environments and their very young fossil record to define ecological baselines for the differentiation of anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic change and to set realistic targets for the restoration of disturbed ecosystems. We use the older geologic record including now-extinct taxa to study biotic responses to environmental change that is beyond conditions observed today and to strengthen the ecological theory underlying conservation practice. For this purpose we concentrate on modern and fossil marine ecosystems and we use geohistorical records (e.g., fossils, sediment cores, geochemical data among others) to study biotic responses to environmental disturbances.

We do a lot of field work and we rely heavily on new collections and environmental data of modern and fossil communities and environments. We study regional ecosystems to ask questions of wider importance. The sedimentological and stratigraphic context of the fossil record is of primary importance for our environmental evaluations. We do a lot of age-dating and we make use of historical data sets and museum collections wherever possible.

We study macrofauna (e.g., brachiopods, bryozoans, molluscs, corals, fish otoliths, sponge spicules) and microfauna (e.g, ostracods and foraminifers) from fossil, archaeological and historical records.

Our work is funded by the Austrian Science Fund, the European Union, the Palaeontological Society and the University of Vienna.