MSc. seminar co taugh with René Dommain at Potsdam University 2017 to 2021

Part of the EDUC alliance


How do tectonics and climate force surface processes and biodiversity? This course will examine this long-standing question by unraveling coupled geodynamic and Earth-Surface processes that impact environmental conditions on different spatial and temporal scales. In a series of lectures and accompanying seminars this module will address:
(1) Cenozoic geodynamic and tectonic processes
(2) Biological evolution and speciation
(3) Paleoenvironmental and fossil records of changing climate and biodiversity

We will present (lectures) case studies of major tectonic systems and their associated biodiversity hotspots (Andes, Tibetan-Himalaya, East African Rift System, Australasia, etc.) and discuss student contributions (seminars).

This timely course is relevant for students interested in a broad multidisciplinary approach to address some of the most fascinating topics of current debate in the geosciences.

Students will learn about new developments in bio-geoscience interactions with a long-term, global perspective, which is particularly timely in the context of global change and anthropogenically driven species extinction.

Organisation and Grading

Lectures (online live or asynchronous): Topic presentations by lecturers and guests. You prepare questions on a background publication (20% of grade). Typically each week.

Seminars (online live or asynchronous): You presents a scientific paper in ppt and prepare questions for other papers (40% of grade). Typically each student presents twice in the semester.

Proposal: You write a 3-5 page proposal on a geo-bio topic of your choice and present it (40% of grade). Typically at the end of the semester but need to start early!


Watch videos on links below or on the class Youtube Channel

  • Introduction to the class
  • Individual Presentations roundtable
  • Biodiversity (René Dommain)
  • Principles of Evolution I (René Dommain) watch video
  • Principles of Evolution II (René Dommain) watch video
  • Introduction to Biogeography I (René Dommain) watch video
  • Introduction to Biogeography II (René Dommain) watch video
  • Geodynamics to Tectonic settings (Guillaume Dupont-Nivet) watch video
  • Hands on paleogeography exercise using the Gplates software (Guillaume Dupont-Nivet)
  • The Great American Biological Interchange (René Dommain)
  • The dating game: geochronology and biostratigraphy (Mustafa Kaya, Guillaume Dupont-Nivet and Matthieu Martinez)
  • The proxy game (isotopes and biomarkers) (Alexander Rohrmann)
  • Mountain Building, tectonic uplift and biodiversity (Carina Hoorn)
  • Biogeography of Southeast Asia (Sundaland vs. Wallacea) (René Dommain)
  • Biodiversity of Sulawesi (Guest Thomas von Rintelen)
  • India-Asia collision: links to global climate and biodiversity (Guillaume Dupont-Nivet)
  • East African Rift, climate and tectonics (René Dommain)
  • Human evolution climate and tectonics (Jose Joordens)

More videos of lectures coming soon