Dr Silvia Danise

Dr Silvia Danise

Research Fellow

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)



Marie Curie InternationalOutgoing Fellowships for Career Development - RETURN PHASE

Project “MAREST, MARineEcosystem Stability and Turnover"

Call identifier: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IOF




Department of Geology, University of Georgia, USA.

Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowships for Career Development - OUTGOING PHASE


PostDoc Research Fellow in Palaeontology

Schoolof Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, UK.

NERC-funded project “Evolution of modern marine ecosystems: controls on their structure and function”.



PhD, Diparitmento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Firenze,Italy. 

Thesis title “Modern and fossil shallow water whale fall communities”.



Master degree in Earth Science, Università di Firenze, Italy.

Professional membership

Palaeontological Association

Paleontological Society

Geological Society of America

Società Paleontologica Italiana

Research interests

Stratigraphic Palaeobiology. Control of depositional and sequence stratigraphic processes on the distribution and diversity of marine macrofossil assemblages.

I am presently the PI of the project MAREST “MARine Ecosystem Stabilty and Turnover”, a multidisciplinary project funded by the European Union that integrates field-based and analytical approaches. In MAREST I combine sequence stratigraphy and palaeoecology (the core disciplines of Stratigraphic Paleobiology) with geochemical proxies of environmental change, to answer the following questions: (i) how do marine benthic communities respond to cyclic sea level changes? (ii) Do communities continuously change through time or alternate intervals of stasis and turnover?(ii) What is the relationship between the stratigraphic architecture and environmental perturbations that cause turnover?

At the University ofGeorgia, US, I collaborate with Professor Steven Holland, where we work on the Middle-Upper Jurassic of the Western Interior Seaway.

Mesozoic Extinction Events and their aftermaths. My focus is on the response of marine macro-invertebrates to past warming events. I have been working in particular on the Ealry Toarcian event, characterized by rapid global warming,development of anoxic condition and a sever extinction event in the marine realm.

Taphonomy of large marine vertebrates and associated fauna. I am particularly interested in modern and fossil whale fall communities and their associated chemosynthetic and heterotrophic fauna. I have also investigated the presence of similar communities associated with large Mesozoic reptile falls.

Grants & contracts


2013     Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowships for Career Development. (282,109.20 euro).

2013     Palaeontological Society Research Grant. (£6,665). 

2013     The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Grant. (£2,000).

2012     EU SYNTHESYS Grant. Visit  marine vertebrate collections at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin.

2012     Marine Institute Education Fund, Plymouth University. (£300).

Publications on Peer-Reviewed Journals 

W.J. Foster, S. Danise, G.D. Price, R.J, Twitchett (2017) Subsequent biotic crises delayed marine recovery following the late Permian mass extinction event in northern Italy. PlosOne 12(3), e0172321.

S. Danise, Holland S.M. (2017). Faunal response to sea-level and climate change in a short-lived seaway: Jurassic of the Western Interior, U.S.A. Palaeontology. doi: 10.1111/pala.12278

W. Foster J., Danise S., Twitchett, R. J. (2016). A silicified Early Triassic marine assemblage from Svalbard. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. DOI: 10.1080/14772019.2016.1245680

S. Danise, Bertolaso L., Dominici S. (2016). Bathymodioline mussel dominated Miocene whale fall from Italy. Bollettino della Societa' Paleontologica 55(1), 47-53.

W. Foster J., Danise S., Sedlacek A., Price G.D.,Hips K., Twitchett, R. J. (2015) Environmental controls on the post- Permianrecovery of benthic, tropical marine ecosystems in western Palaeotethys (Ag-gtelek Karst, Hungary), Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.09.004

S. Danise, N.D. Higgs (2015). Bone-eating Osedax worms lived on Mesozoic marine reptile falls. Biology letters 11, 20150072. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0072

Featured in Nature Research Highlights , Nature 520, 411

S. Danise , R.J.Twitchett, C.T.S. Little (2015). Environmental controls on Jurassic marine ecosystems during global warming. Geology,43 (3), 263-266. doi:10.1130/G36390.1 .

S. Danise , R.J. Twitchett, K. Matts (2014). Ecological succession of a Jurassic shallow-water ichthyosaur fall. Nature Communications 5, 4789. doi:10.1038/ncomms5789

S. Danise , S. Dominici (2014). Shallow water fossil whale falls from the Neogene of Italy. Lethaia 47, 228-243. DOI: 10.1111/let.12054.

S. Danise , S. Dominici, A.G. Glover T.G., Dahlgren (2014). Molluscs from a shallow-water whale-fall and their affinities with adjacent benthic communitieson the Swedish west coast. Marine Biology Research. 10:1, 3–16.

A.C. Pugh, S. Danise, J. R. Brown AND R.J. Twitchett (2014). Benthic ecosystem dynamics following the Late Triassic Mass Extinction Event: palaeoecology of the Blue Lias Formation, Lyme Regis, UK. Geoscience in South - West England. 13, 255-266.

S. Danise , R.J. Twitchett, C.T.S. Little, M-E. Clemence (2013). The Impact of Global Warming and Anoxia on Marine Benthic Community Dynamics: an Example from the Toarcian (Early Jurassic). PLoS ONE 8(2): e56255. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056255

C. Anderung, S. Danise , A.G. Glover, N.D. Higgs, L. Jonsson, R. Sabin, T.G. Dahlgren (2013). A Swedish subfossil find of a bowhead whale from the late Pleistocene: shore displacement, palaeoecology in south-west Sweden and the identity of the Swedenborg whale (Balaena swedenborgii, Liljeborg 1867). Historical Biology. iFirst article, 1-11. doi:10.1080/08912963.2012.757605.

S. Danise , B. Cavalazzi, S. Dominici, F. Westall, S. Monechi, S. Guioli (2012).Evidence of microbial activity form a shallow water whale fall (Voghera, northern Italy). Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 317-318, 13–26.

S. Danise , S. Dominici, and U. Betocchi (2010) Mollusk species at a Pliocene shelf whale fall (Orciano Pisano, Tuscany). Palaios 25, 449–456.

S. Dominici, E. Cioppi, S. Danise , U. Betocchi, G. Gallai, F. Tangocci, G. Valleri and S. Monechi (2009) Mediterranean fossil whale falls and the adaptation of mollusks to extreme habitats. Geology 37, 815–818.

Other Publications

S. Dominiciand S. Danise. 2010. Una comunita’ tutta italiana. Le Scienze 500, 96–97 (ISSN 0036-8083).Italian edition of the Scientific American.

S. Danise . 2010. Nuovi dati stratigrafici e paleoambientali nel bacino delValdarno Superiore. Memorie Valdarnesi Serie VIII, Fascicolo V, 73–88(ISSN 1122-3901).

Selected Abstracts & Congress Proceedings (*presenter, ^student) 

H.B. Tilley, R.J. Twitchett, J. Todd, S. Danise. 2016. Body size change of marine benthic macroinvertebrates in response to environmental stressors during the Pliensbachian-Toarcian Extinction Event (Early Jurassic). 60th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Programme and Abstracts. p. 110. (POSTER).

S. Danise*, K.M. Kusnerik, S.M. Holland. 2016. Opening and closing of a short lived (13 m.y.) seaway: faunal response to sea level and climate change. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 48, No. 7. Paper No. 195-3. (ORAL PRESENTATION).

A.P. Poncelet^, S.M. Holland, S. Danise. 2016. Jurassic carbonates of northern Wyoming: possible evidence of climatic change in the Sundance Seaway. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 48, No. 7. Paper No. 340-19 (POSTER).

R.J. Twitchett, B.J. Allen, H.B. Tilley, M-E Clemence, S. Danise. 2016. Controls on marine invertebrate body size changes during the Early Toarcian warming related extinction event. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 48, No. 7. Paper No. 137-9. 

ND Higgs, S. Danise. 2015. Fossil insights into the evolution of Osedax worms and the origin of the Siboglinidae (Annelida). 14th Deep Sea Biology Symposium. 31 Aug-4th Sept 2015, Aveiro, Portugal.

S.Danise , R.J. Twitchett. 2015. Environmentalcontrols on marine ecosystems during the early Toarcian extinction event.Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 17, EGU2015-4090, 2015. EGU General Assembly 2015. (ORAL PRESENTATION).

S. Dominici, M. Benvenuti, S. Danise. 2015. The stratigraphic distribution of large marine vertebrates andshell beds in the Pliocene of Tuscany. Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 17, EGU2015-9014, 2015. EGU General Assembly 2015.

F.J. William J., R.J. Twitchett, S. Danise. 2014. Palaeoecology of benthic marine communities in the wake of theLate Permian mass extinction event. 58th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Programme and Abstracts p. 26-27. University ofLeeds, 16-19 December 2014 .

S. Danise , R.J. Twitchett, C.T.S. Little. 2014. Faunal changes, global warming and anoxia in the early Toarcian (Early Jurassic). Long term co-evolution of life and the planet (NERC research programme). 5-6 November 2014. The Geological Society, London. Abstract Book p.21. (ORAL PRESENTATION).

C.T.S. Little, J. Atkinson, S. Danise, R.J. Twitchett. 2014. The EarlyToarcian (Early Jurassic) extinction event and recovery as recorded in the ClevelandBasin, UK. Long term co-evolution of life and the planet(NERC research programme). 5-6 November 2014. The Geological Society, London.Abstract Book p. 22.

R.J. Twitchett, A.C. Pugh ^ , J. Brown ^ , L. F. Opazo, S. Danise. 2014. Benthic ecosystem dynamics through the Triassic-Jurassic of Southwest UK. 4th International Palaeontological Congress, Mendoza, Argentina. October2014. Abstract volume p. 283. (POSTER).

S. Danise* , M.E. Clemence. D. Murphy, G. Price, J.J. Gómez, R.J. Twitchett. 2014. The response of marine benthic communities to increase pCO2 and temperature in the early Toarcian. North American Palaeontological Convention, Gainesville, Florida. Abstract Book, p.110. (ORAL PRESENTATION).

S. Danise* , R.J. Twitchett, ME Clemence. 2014. Benthic communitydynamics through the early Toarcian extinction event. Workshop on “Jurassic palaeoenvironments and life”, 28th-31st January 2014- Marrakech, Morocco. Abstract Book, p. 13. (ORAL PRESENTATION).

S. Danise *, K. Matts ^ , R.J. Twitchett. 2013. Taphonomyand palaeoecology of a Jurassic ichthyosaur: similarities and differences tomodern whale falls. 57th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association,Programme and Abstracts p. 32. Universitat Zurich, December 2013. (ORAL PRESENTATION).

A. Pugh^, S. Danise , R.J. Twitchett. 2013. Benthic ecosystem dynamics following the Late Triassic mass extinction event. 57th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Programme and Abstracts p. 83. Universitat Zurich, December 2013.(POSTER).

R.J. Twitchett, S.Danise, K. Matts ^ . 2013. Taphonomy and palaeoecology of a Jurassic ichthyosaur: similarities and differences to modern whale falls. Geological Society ofAmerica Annual Meeting. October 2013.

S. Danise *. 2013. The impactof global warming and anoxia on marine benthic community dynamics: an examplefrom the Toarcian (Early Jurassic). Marine Institute Research Centre, Plymouth University. June 2013. (ORALPRESENTATION).

S. Danise* , R.J. Twitchett, C.T.S. Little, ME Clemence. 2012. Marine communitydynamics through the early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) global warming event. 56th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Programme and Abstracts, p.28. December 2012. (ORAL PRESENTATION).

S. Danise , R.J. Twitchett and C.T.S. Little. 2012. Marine community dynamics through the early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) global warming event. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 44, No. 7, p. 626. November2 012. (ORAL PRESENTATION).

R. Edmonds, M.B. Haart and S. Danise . 2012. Micro- andmacro-fossils associated with the Dorset pliosaur. Ussher Society. January 2012.

S. Danise* and S. Dominici. 2011. Fossil whale falls from the Neogene of Italy. 55th Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Plymouth University. December 2011. Programme and Abstracts, p. 48. (POSTER ).

S. Danise and S. Dominici. 2011. Seven Fossil Whales. Convegno della Società Paleontologica Italiana, Monte San Giorgio, Switzerland. June 2011.

S. Danise* , B. Cavalazzi, S. Dominici, S. Monechi, F. Westall, B. Schmitz and S.Guioli. 2010. Evidenceof microbial activity in a Miocene whale carcass from shallow water sediments (Voghera, Northern Italy). Third International Palaeontological Congress, London,UK. July 2010. Abstract volume p. 136. ( ORAL PRESENTATION ).

S. Danise* , S. Dominici, T.G. Dahlgren and A.G. Glover, 2010. Chemosymbiotic mollusks from recent and fossil shallow water whale falls. Third International Palaeontological Congress, London, UK.July 2010. ( POSTER ).

S. Danise* , S. Dominici, B. Cavalazziand S. Monechi. 2010. Fossil whale falls from the Neogene of Italy. Convegno della Società Paleontologica Italiana, Rende (CS), Italy. 27-28 May 2010. Riassunti p. 22. ( ORALPRESENTATION ).

S. Danise* , S. Dominici and S. Monechi. 2009. A Pliocene whale-fall community from outer shelf deposits (Orciano Pisano, Tuscany, Italy). 4thInternational Symposium on Chemosynthesis-based Ecosystems, Okinawa, Japan.June 2009. ( POSTER ).

S. Dominici, S. Danise . 2009. Mediterranean fossil whales and the adaptation of mollusks to extreme habitats. North American Paleontological Convention, Cincinnati, Ohio. June 2009. ( POSTER ).


Reports & invited lectures

Invited Presentations & Seminars

01.2015      Geoscience Colloquium Series, University of Georgia, USA. “New insights on the fossil record of Mesozoic marine reptile dead-falls". 23.01.2015
05.2014      Earth Science Research Seminar Series, Plymouth University, UK. “Faunal changes, global warming and anoxia in the early Toarcian (Early Jurassic)”. 07.05.2014
04.2014      National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, UK. “Faunal changes, global warming and anoxia in the early Toarcian (Early Jurassic)”. 30.04.2014.
11.2013      School of Natural System, Kanazawa Univesity, Japan. “Modern and fossil shallow water whale fall communities” 14.11.2013.
11.2013     Department of Earth & Planetary Science, University of Tokyo, Japan. “Palaeocommunity changes across the early Toarcian extinction event: a case study from the Cleveland Basin, UK”. 12.11.2013
03.2013     Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany. “Modern and fossil whale falls: did Mesozoic analogues exist?” 21.03.2013.
11.2011     CRESS Research Conference, Plymouth University, UK. “Modern and fossil shallow-water whale fall communities”. 16.11.2011.
11.2010     Georg–August-Universität Göttingen, Geowissenschaftliches Zentrum, Germany. “Detecting biotic activity from fossil whale-falls: from benthic invertebrates to micro-organisms“. Geobiologie group. 23.11.2010.