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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department of Paleobiology

  • Gene Hunt
  • Curator of Ostracoda
  • Phone:   202-633-1331
  • Fax:   202-786-2832
  • E-mail Address:   hunte
  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 121
    Washington, DC 20013-7012
  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th & Constitution NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0121

NEWS: Postdoctoral fellowship position available for 2014. Click here for details.


Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2003
B.S. Duke University, 1995

Research Interests

My research interests are diverse, but one common theme that underpins many of these projects is the translation of evolutionary processes acting on short time scales into patterns that are observable in the fossil record. Most commonly, I use the deep-sea microfossil record to investigate some of these connections between evolution on micro- and macro- time scales.

Morphologic evolution in deep-sea Ostracoda
My organismal work thus far has focused on the ostracode genus Poseidonamicus. One aspect of my research has focused on estimating phylogenetic relationships among populations of this genus. In addition to phylogeny, I have ongoing projects examining the development and morphology of carapace reticulation and analysis of body size trends over the Cenozoic, and the relationship of such trend to long-term climate change.

Variation and phenotypic evolution
Variation is the raw material of evolution, and the influence of this variation on evolutionary processes is well understood on time scales of a few generations. What is less clear, however, is what role phenotypic variation may play in structuring or constraining evolutionary change over much longer periods of time. Ongoing projects in this area include: (i) assessing the conservation of phenotypic covariance patterns within and among lineages, and (ii) testing the degree to which phenotypic variation has channeled macroevolutionary change in the deep-sea ostracode genus Poseidonamicus.

Analytical methods in paleontology
Other current and recent projects explore the use of quantitative approaches in paleobiological research. One current line of research revisits the use of statistical models in studying the mode and pace of phyletic evolution. Other research projects include analyzing the drivers of deep-sea diversity change in the context of the species-energy theory (Hunt, Cronin and Roy, 2005), and examining the extent of phylogenetic clumping in bivalve extinction with Kaustuv Roy.

Ecology, evolution and conservation biology of rocky intertidal mollusks
This line of research follows from my postdoctoral position with Dr. Kaustuv Roy of the University of California San Diego. More can be learned about this work by visiting


I have written a package for the R statistical software environment ( that performs the analyses described in my 2006 Paleobiology paper. This package is called paleoTS, and like all R packages, it is best downloaded from within R using the "Package Installer" or equivalent pull-down menu.

Below are some handouts I did for a 5-session course introducing users to R for paleontological analysis. Some of these cover how to use R in general, and some discusses specifically paleontological analyses that can be done with R. Each session includes practice exercises, with answers at the end. (Sessions are in Adobe Acrobat format, click on the link to read or download.)

  • Session 1  R basics, introduction to statistics and plotting
  • Session 2  Importing data, statistical models in R, biodiversity analyses
  • Session 3  Data manipulation, multivariate analysis
  • Session 4  Programming: loops, functions, etc.
  • Session 5  Phylogenetic comparative methods, re-sampling procedures


Rivadeneira, Marcelo M., Hunt, Gene and Roy, Kaustuv. 2014. The use of sighting records to infer species extinctions: Reply, Ecology, 95(1):238-239

Van Bocxlaer, Bert and Hunt, Gene. 2013. Morphological stasis in an ongoing gastropod radiation from Lake Malawi, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(34):13892-13897

Yasuhara, Moriaki, Hunt, Gene, Okahashi, Hisayo and Brandão, Simone N. 2013. The 'Oxycythereis' problem: taxonomy and palaeobiogeography of deep-sea ostracod genera Pennyella and Rugocythereis, Palaeontology, 56(5):1045-1080

Hunt, Gene. 2013. Testing the link between phenotypic evolution and speciation: an integrated palaeontological and phylogenetic analysis, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 4(8):714-723

Yasuhara, Moriaki, Hunt, Gene, van Dijken, Gert, Arrigo, Kevin R., Cronin, Thomas M. and Wollenburg, Jutta E. 2012. Patterns and controlling factors of species diversity in the Arctic Ocean, Journal of Biogeography, 39(11):2081-2088

Hunt, Gene. 2012. Measuring rates of phenotypic evolution and the inseparability of tempo and mode, Paleobiology, 38(3):351-373

Yasuhara, Moriaki, Hunt, Gene, Cronin, T. M., Hokanishi, N., Kawahata, H., Tsujimoto, A. and Ishitake, M. 2012. Climatic forcing of Quaternary deep-sea benthic communities in the North Pacific Ocean, Paleobiology, 38(1):162-179

Yasuhara, Moriaki, Hunt, Gene, Breitburg, Denise, Tsujimoto, Akira and Katsuki, Kota. 2012. Human-induced marine ecological degradation: micropaleontological perspectives, Ecology and Evolution, 2(12):3242-3268

Yasuhara, Moriaki, Hunt, Gene, Dowsett, Harry J., Robinson, Marci M. and Stoll, Danielle K. 2012. Latitudinal species diversity gradient of marine zooplankton for the last three million years, Ecology Letters, 15(10):1174-1179

Fusco, Giuseppe, Garland, Theodore, Jr., Hunt, Gene and Hughes, Nigel C. 2012. Developmental trait evolution in trilobites, Evolution, 66(2):314-329

Liow, Lee H., Simpson, Carl, Bouchard, Frédéric, Damuth, John, Hallgrimsson, Benedikt, Hunt, Gene, McShea, Dan,W., Powell, Jeffrey,R., Stenseth, Nils,C., Stoller, Melissa,K. and Wagner, Gunter. 2011. Pioneering paradigms and magnificent manifestos—Leigh Van Valen's priceless contributions to evolutionary biology, Evolution, 65(4):917-922

Kolbe, Sarah E., Lockwood, Rowan and Hunt, Gene. 2011. Does morphological variation buffer against extinction? A test using veneroid bivalves from the Plio-Pleistocene of Florida, Paleobiology, 37(3):355-368

Green, Walton A., Hunt, Gene, Wing, Scott L. and DiMichele, William A. 2011. Does extinction wield an axe or pruning shears? How interactions between phylogeny and ecology affect patterns of extinction, Paleobiology, 37(1):72-91

Geary, Dana H., Hunt, Gene, Magyar, Imre and Schreiber, Holly. 2010. The paradox of gradualism: phyletic evolution in two lineages of lymnocardiid bivalves (Lake Pannon, central Europe), Paleobiology, 36(4):592-614

Hunt, Gene and Carrano, Matthew T. 2010. "Models and methods for analyzing phenotypic evolution in lineages and clades". Pp. 245-269 in Quantitative Methods in Paleobiology (Alroy, John and Hunt, Gene). The Paleontological Society

Hunt, Gene, Wicaksono, Satrio A., Brown, Julia E. and MacLeod, Kenneth G. 2010. Climate-driven body-size trends in the ostracod fauna of the deep Indian Ocean, Palaeontology, 53(6):1255-1268

Hunt, Gene and Yasuhara, Moriaki. 2010. A fossil record of developmental events: variation and evolution in epidermal cell divisions in ostracodes, Evolution & Development, 12(6):635-646

Hunt, Gene. 2010. Evolution in Fossil Lineages: Paleontology and The Origin of Species, The American Naturalist, 176(Suppl 1):S61-S76

Rivadeneira, Marcelo M., Hunt, Gene and Roy, K. 2009. The use of sighting records to infer species extinctions: an evaluation of different methods, Ecology, 90(5):1291-1300

Roy, Kaustuv, Hunt, Gene, Jablonski, David, Krug, Andrew Z. and Valentine, James W. 2009. A macroevolutionary perspective on species range limits, Proceedings of the Royal Society (London) B, 276(1661):1485-1493

Roy, Kaustuv, Hunt, Gene and Jablonski, David. 2009. Phylogenetic Conservatism of Extinctions in Marine Bivalves, Science, 325(5941):733-737

Yasuhara, Moriaki, Cronin, Thomas M., Hunt, Gene and Hodell, David A. 2009. Deep-Sea Ostracods from the South Atlantic Sector of the Southern Ocean during the Last 370,000 Years, Journal of Paleontology, 83(6):914-930

Yasuhara, Moriaki, Hunt, Gene, Cronin, Thomas M. and Okahashi, H. 2009. Temporal latitudinal-gradient dynamics and tropical instability of deep-sea species diversity, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(51):21717-21720

Bennington, J. B., DiMichele, William A., Badgley, Catherine, Bambach, Richard K., Barrett, Paul M., Behrensmeyer, Anna K., Bobe, Rene, Burnham, Robyn J., Daeschler, Edward B., Van Dam, Jan, Eronen, Jussi T., Erwin, Douglas H., Finnegan, Seth, Holland, Steven M., Hunt, Gene, Jablonski, David, Jackson, Stephen T., Jacobs, Bonnie E., Kidwell, Susan M., Koch, Paul L., Kowalewski, Michal J., Labandeira, Conrad C., Looy, Cindy V., Lyons, Sara K., Novack-Gottshall, Philip M., et al. 2009. Critical Issues of Scale in Paleoecology, Palaios, 24(1-2):1-4

Hunt, Gene. 2008. Gradual or pulsed evolution: when should punctuational explanations be preferred?, Paleobiology, 34(3):360-377

Hunt, Gene, Bell, M. A. and Travis, M. P. 2008. Evolution toward a new adaptive optimum: Phenotypic evolution in a fossil stickleback lineage, Evolution, 62(3):700-710

Hunt, Gene. 2008. "Evolutionary patterns within fossil lineages: model-based assessment of modes, rates, punctuations and process". Pp. 117-131 in From Evolution to Geobiology: Research Questions Driving Paleontology at the Start of a New Century (Bambach, Richard K. and Kelley, P. H.). The Paleontological Society

Hunt, Gene. 2007. Perspective: Variation and Early Evolution, Science, 317:459-460

Frame, Kristin, Hunt, Gene and Roy, Kaustuv. 2007. Intertidal meiofaunal biodiversity with respect to different algal habitats: a test using phytal ostracodes from Southern California, Hydrobiologia, 586:331-342

Hunt, Gene. 2007. Morphology, ontogeny, and phylogenetics of the genus Poseidonamicus (Ostracoda: Thaerocytherinae), Journal of Paleontology, 81:607-631

Hunt, Gene, Park, L. E. and Labarbera, M. 2007. A Novel Crustacean Swimming Stroke: Coordinated Four-Paddled Locomotion in the Cypridoidean Ostracode Cypridopsis vidua (Muller), Biological Bulletin, 212:67-73

Hunt, Gene. 2007. Evolutionary divergence in directions of high phenotypic variance in the ostracode genus Poseidonamicus, Evolution, 61:1560-1576

Hunt, Gene. 2007. The relative importance of directional change, random walks, and stasis in the evolution of fossil lineages, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(47):18404-18408

Hunt, Gene. 2006. Fitting and comparing models of phyletic evolution:random walks and beyond, Paleobiology, 32(4):578-601

Hunt, Gene and Roy, K. 2006. Climate change, body size evolution, and Cope's Rule in deep-sea ostracodes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(5):1347-1352

Jablonski, David and Hunt, Gene. 2006. Larval Ecology, Geographic Range, and Species Survivorship in Cretaceous Mollusks: Organismic versus Species-Level Explanations, The American Naturalist, 168(4):556-564

Hunt, Gene, Roy, K. and Jablonski, David. 2005. Species-level heritability reaffirmed: a comment on "On the heritability of geographic range sizes", The American Naturalist, 166:129-135

Hunt, Gene, Cronin, Thomas M. and Roy, K. 2005. Species-energy relationship in the deep sea: a test using the Quaternary fossil record, Ecology Letters, 8:739-747

Hunt, Gene and Chapman, R. E. 2001. Evaluating hypotheses of instar-grouping in arthropods: a maximum likelihood approach, Paleobiology, 27(3):466-484