Dr. Michelle Casey

Dr. Casey


Assistant Professor
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
330 Blackburn Science Building
Murray State University
Murray, KY 42071

Dr. Michelle Casey is a paleoecologist interested in conservation paleobiology and ecosystem responses to stress. Previously Dr. Casey worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher the University of Kansas' Biodiversity Institute, as an Adjunct Professor at St. Cloud State University, and as a Visiting Professor at Oberlin College.


PhD Yale University, 2011
MS Virginia Tech, 2005
BA Maclester College, 2002


EES 101: Earth and the Environment
EES 102: Earth Through Time
EES 310: Rock and Mineral Resources
EES 314: Soils and Sediments
EES 533: Paleoecology

Proposed future courses:

EES 115: Dinosaurs
EES 151: Geosciences of Alcohol


The goal of my research is to study ecological responses to natural and anthropogenic environmental disturbances. In particular, I use the fossil record as a natural laboratory to test ecological and evolutionary responses that operate at timescales beyond direct human observation and I determine the pristine ecological baseline of modern ecosystems in need of conservation or restoration. Research approaches that I employ include:

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and PaleoGIS, including the study of how abiotic and biotic factors govern ​species distribution and species invasions in deep time.
  • Evaluation of multiple stressors on ecosystems, including commercial fishing, eutrophication, and hypoxia, by combining modern geochemical evidence with that from live (and recently dead) organisms, archaeological shell middens, and Holocene fossils.
  • Stable isotopes (N and C) to evaluate trophic position.
  • Morphometric analyses to study placement of predatory drill-holes to investigate changes in predator-prey interactions and evolutionary trends.
  • Taphonomic and feeding experiment approaches that evaluate the amount and kinds of data we can reliably obtain from shells, including changes in predatory behavior, predator identity, and predation intensity.


  • Casey, M.M., Fall, L.M., and Dietl, G.P. 2016. "You are what you eat: Stable isotopic evidence indicates that the naticid gastropod Neverita duplicata is an omnivore." Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 4 (2016): 125. http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fevo.2016.00125/full
  • Casey, M.M., Farrell, U.C., Dietl, G.P., and Veilleux, D.J. 2015. "Mixed assemblages of drilling predators and the problem of identity in the fossil record: A case study using the muricid gastropod Ecphora." Paleobiology41(4): 680-696. http://journals. cambridge.org/abstract_ S0094837315000329.
  • Casey, M.M. and Lieberman, B.S. 2014. “Beyond Memorization: An Intermediate-level Paleontology Activity That Integrates Anatomy, Ecology, and Macroevolutionary Theory Using Trilobites.” Evolution: Education and Outreach 7(20): 1-10.http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12052-014-0020-5
  • Casey, M.M., Dietl, G.P., Post, D.M., and Briggs, D.E.G. 2014. "The impact of eutrophication and commercial fishing on molluscan communities in Long Island Sound, USA." Biological Conservation 170: 137-144. pdf
  • Casey, M.M. and Post, D.M. 2011. "The Problem of Isotopic Baseline: Reconstructing the Diet and Trophic Position of Fossil Animals." Earth-Science Reviews 106:131-148. pdf
  • Laflamme, M. and Casey, M.M. 2011. "Morphometrics in the study of fossil shapes" in M. Laflamme, J.D. Schiffbauer, and S.Q. Dornbos (eds.) Quantifying the Early Evolution of Life: Numerical and technological approaches to the study of fossils and ancient ecosystems. Springer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands. p. 49-71.
  • Casey, M.M., and Chattopadhyay, D. 2008. "Clumping behavior as a strategy against drilling predation: implications for the fossil record." Journal of Experimental Biology and Ecology 367:174-179.
  • Casey, M.M., Kowalewski, M., and Fraser, N. 2007. "Quantitative Taphonomy of a Triassic Reptile: Tanytrachelos ahynis from the Cow Branch Formation, Dan River Basin, Solite Quarry, Virginia." Palaios 22:598-611.

Professional Memberships:

Geological Society of America
Paleontological Society