School of GeoSciences

School of GeoSciences


Dr Kate Darling

Kate Darling

BSc (London), PhD (Glasgow), Honorary Professor (St Andrews)



I am a multi-disciplinary scientist working on the diversity and phylogeography of foraminifera to improve the resolution and understanding of palaeoceanographic proxies and the microfossil record. Researchers use foraminiferal fossil shells to reconstruct ocean circulation and climate in the past, by assuming that all the shells of a specific morphospecies were constructed within the same environmental range. Evidence from small subunit ribosomal RNA genotyping in living planktonic foraminifers indicate that morphospecies often represent several distinct genotypes which are adapted to different environments.

Genotypes of morphospecies therefore build their shells in different environments from one another and scientists are unknowingly processing a mixed assemblage. This has consequences for researchers using marine sediment assemblage data and shell geochemical signatures to determine past oceanographic and climate history. Once the genetic structure is understood, proxy inconsistencies can be resolved. Additionally, there may be a vast storehouse of information for past climate reconstruction to be exploited.

Prof Kate Darling


  • The global biogeography and ecology of genetically characterised planktonic foraminiferal species
  • The genetic profiles and ecology of planktonic foraminifers in hydrographically complex upwelling regions
  • Cryptic ecotypes as potential bias for proxy reconstruction
  • Combined genetic, morphological and ecological approaches to reduce uncertainty in palaeoclimate reconstructions using benthic foraminifers


Publications 2013