Isabel Fenton

Isabel Fenton

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

I am interested in using fossils to help us understand large scale ecological and evolutionary processes. Whilst at Oxford, I am working with Erin Saupe to study how species responded to past climatic change. How easy was it for them to adapt to different temperatures, or are species’ climatic niches fixed? Are there certain traits of a species that influence this response? And can we use these results to predict how species are likely to respond to future climatic change? I aim to address these questions using two marine groups with excellent fossil records: bivalves and planktonic foraminifera.

In my previous work I have focussed on the planktonic foraminifera. This group of ocean plankton have one of the best fossil records, providing an ideal study system for identifying how species and communities change through time. I have used them to investigate how the species within a community influence each other in their evolution, testing the hypothesis of adaptive zones. I have also looked at the processes that determine their diversity, and whether those processes were influenced by the global cooling that occurred through the Eocene (50-34 million years ago).

Fenton IS, Baranowski U, Boscolo-Galazzo F, Cheales H, Fox L, King DJ, Larkin C, Latas M, Liebrand D, Miller CG, Nilsson-Kerr K, Piga E, Pugh H, Remmelzwaal S, Roseby Z, Smith YM, Stukins S, Taylor B, Woodhouse A, Worne S, Pearson PN, Poole CR, Wade BS & Purvis A (2018) Factors affecting consistency and accuracy in identifying modern macroperforate planktonic foraminifera. Journal of Micropalaeontology, 37, 431-443.


Al-Sabouni N*, Fenton IS*, Telford RJ & Kučera M (2018) Reproducibility of species recognition in modern planktonic foraminifera and its implications for measures of community structure. Journal of Micropalaeontology, 37, 519-534. (*equal contributions).


Fenton IS, Pearson PN, Dunkley Jones T & Purvis A (2016) Environmental predictors of diversity in Recent planktonic foraminifera as recorded in marine sediments, PLOS ONE, 11, e0165522.


Fenton IS, Pearson PN, Dunkley Jones T, Farnsworth A, Lunt DJ, Markwick P & Purvis A (2016) The impact of Cenozoic cooling on assemblage diversity in planktonic foraminifera, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 371, 20150224.