Legacy Database of the Panama Paleontology Project. Grant

Legacy Database of the Panama Paleontology Project. .


  • LEGACY DATABASE OF THE PANAMA PALEONTOLOGY PROJECTLaurel S. Collins and Anthony G. CoatesEAR-0746014, Florida International University ABSTRACTIf scientists are to gain a better understanding of the influence of environmental change on the highly diverse but poorly understood faunas of the tropics, they need more detailed, chronologically arranged information. This project constructs a relational database of information on tropical fossils collected by the Panama Paleontology Project (PPP), makes it available via the internet, and links it to a system that will automatically update the ages to the newest standard geologic time scale, which is continually refined with new data. The PPP's fossil collections of mostly foraminifera, mollusks, fish, corals, ostracodes and bryozoans from Central and South America are housed in major world museums. The ages of the fossils are unusually well resolved, which makes them invaluable for fine-scaled research on tropical evolution, geology, biogeography and environmental change. At present, more than 40 scientists from 7 countries have produced over 180 scientific publications based on these collections; however, for continued research, the current information needs to be supplemented and ages need to be standardized to a single time scale.The PPP Database will have a structure based on a data model of the relationships of the data categories, a web interface for users, and links to the TimeScale-Creator program of the International Commission on Stratigraphy that enables future updates to the newest geologic age information. The existing collections information currently available at www.fiu.edu/~collinsl/pppdatabase.html will also be updated to include newer collections from Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Ecuador (~ 825 sites and ~2000 records). The main activities of the project are to: add new records and information to the database, provide updated ages for all faunal samples, implement the data model as a relational database, make the entire database available on the web, and make future updates to the newest age information automatic. The additional data will be extracted from documents such as field notebooks, publications and biostratigraphers' reports. The general methods employed for assigning ages are: 1) ordering all collection sites stratigraphically, 2) making biostratigraphic determinations for each site, 3) resolving age problems with the project's biostratigraphers, and 4) assigning biochronologic ages to the sites using the latest age information. The main results of the project's activities are to enhance knowledge for scientific research and the education of students and postdoctoral scientists. The new database will enable a number of key questions related to large-scale evolutionary and ecological processes to be tested rigorously and at a relatively fine scale by scientists around the world. A graduate student at FIU, Florida's state university in Miami and a federally recognized minority institution, will learn data management and project organization.

date/time interval

  • April 15, 2008 - March 31, 2013

administered by

sponsor award ID

  • EAR-0746014

local award ID

  • AWD000000000323