Meet our researchers: Dr Katie Davis

News | Posted on Thursday 12 March 2020

Get to know more about our researchers

Dr Katie E Davis

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Evolution of Biodiversity in the Anthropocene

Describe your work in a nutshell

I use evidence from the deep geological record (10s to 100s millions of years) to explore how past environmental change affected biodiversity. I aim to use this information to help us to predict, and mitigate, the effects of human activity on today’s biodiversity.


Phylogeny of Anomura © Davis KE, Hill J, Astrop TI & Wills MA. 2016. Global cooling as a driver of speciation in a major marine clade. Nature Communications 7:13003.

What sparked your interest in this subject?

I’ve wanted to be a palaeontologist since I was four years old. I’ve always been fascinated with biodiversity and the history of life on Earth and always wanted to know… why? I took an earth science rather than ecology route, which has been hugely beneficial in giving me the skills and knowledge to put climate change and its effects on biodiversity into a longer-term context.


Mexican crocodile © Jon Hill, CC-BY 4.0

Why did you choose to become a researcher?

I can’t imagine doing anything else! I love the whole process – coming up with research questions, working out the best way to approach problems then of course carrying out the actual research. Much of the time spent in research is drudgery – collecting and analysing data – but it’s all worth it when the answers start to appear. I never have that Sunday afternoon feeling of dread because I’m always looking forward to what I’ll discover at work.


Great American Biotic Interchange, © Woudloper, CC BY-SA 1.0

What do you consider are the most pressing challenges ahead?

I think we need to make much better use of evidence from the geological past if we want to attempt to maintain ecosystem resilience in the face of anthropogenic change and it’s effects on biodiversity.

Recommended reading

Anything by Stephen Jay Gould.

Read more about Katie's research

Contact us

Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity
lcab-enquiries@york.ac.uk

Contact us

Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity
lcab-enquiries@york.ac.uk