Research AreasDr. Collins investigates environmental changes of the past and the extent to which they have affected evolution, including changes in evolutionary rates, communities, and organismal morphology. The originations and extinctions of fossil taxa and their ecology/paleoecology are used to identify evolutionary, paleoceanographic, paleoclimatic and tectonic trends through time.
Current Research Projects
Neogene Evolution of Tropical American Benthic Foraminifera
The Neogene emergence of the Isthmus of Panama separated tropical Eastern Pacific and Western Atlantic biotas. Fieldwork in Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua) and Ecuador is establishing a stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental framework to assess biogeographic and evolutionary changes.
Uplift of the Isthmus of Panama
Dr. Collins is using the paleoecology, paleobiogeography and stable isotopes of foraminifera to identify evolutionary shallow-water paleoceanographic and tectonic changes associated with the early Miocene to
Pliocene emergence of the Isthmus of Panama.
Seagrass History of Florida Bay, Everglades National Park
FIU geologists, biologists
and chemists are investigating the amount of variation in coastal environmental conditions that is naturally occurring. Their approach is to reconstruct the historical record of seagrass abundance, which is highly correlated with environmental water quality. She has collected sediment cores and obtained ages as old as 4000+ years, and they are using proxies of seagrass abundance contained in the sediment as indicators of the environmental water quality of the past few hundred years. She is studying seagrass-associated foraminifera as an indicator of seagrass
abundance, and will combine her results with the other proxies (sedimentology, geochemistry, diatoms) to produce an integrated history of Florida Bay seagrass abundance.
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