David P. Gillikin
M.Sc. in Marine Ecology,
B.Sc. in Environmental Geology,
Teaching | Research | Potential Thesis Ideas | CV | Publications (see also Google profile) | Contact info
Stable Isotope Laboratory
The central theme of my research program involves the use of geochemical proxies (stable isotopes and trace/minor elements) to understand past and present biogeochemical cycles as well as paleo-climatological and paleo-environmental conditions. I focus on the use of biological carbonates as environmental/climatic record keepers, a field known as sclerochronology (analogous to dendrochronology). More precisely, I study how well skeletal chemistry records the environment. All proxies have their own limitations, and one of the main drawbacks in using a biologic carbonate is that the biology of the organism may interfere with equilibrium reactions in the skeleton. Understanding these 'vital effects' is part of my specialty.I am an Assistant Professor of Geology at Union College where I teach Stable Isotopes in Environmental Science, Restless Oceans, The Earth and Life Through Time and Biogeochemistry.
The core of my teaching philosophy revolves around actively including students in research and developing their critical thinking. I achieve this through exposing students to scientific peer-reviewed papers, the peer-review process, class discussion on controversial topics in environmental sciences (both intro and upper level classes) and having students conduct their own research project (upper level classes). I have taken several students to regional and national meetings for them to present their research. I also strongly feel that a field component should be incorporated into all classes. I find that field trips can make learning fun, and help me connect with the students as well as creating a ‘community’ feeling in the class and department.
Essentially all we know about past climates and ecosystems is derived from either chemical or physical proxy records stored in solid structures such as tree-rings, ice-cores, or carbonate skeletons. Understanding how precisely these proxies record their environment is of paramount importance to understanding global climate change. It is well known that each proxy has its benefits and drawbacks. For example, ice cores can only be obtained from limited locals; trees only provide terrestrial records. Biological carbonates, however, are found from the poles to the tropics and from shallow freshwater and marine systems to the deep oceans. My research focuses on the use of biological carbonates as environmental/climatic record keepers, a field known as sclerochronology (analogous to dendrochronology). More precisely, I study how well skeletal chemistry records the environment (or sclerochemistry, a term a colleague and I recently proposed [Grocke and Gillikin, 2008]). One of the main drawbacks in using a biologic carbonate is that the biology of the organism may interfere with equilibrium reactions in the skeleton. Understanding these ‘vital effects’ is my specialty. I have worked on trace elements such as Sr/Ca, Ba/Ca, Mg/Ca, and Pb/Ca as well as stable isotopes (see publications bellow). My current projects include estuarine and freshwater biogeochemistry, freshwater mussel shell geochemistry, isotope chemostratigraphy and chemical dendrochronology.
Keck 2012 in Montana
Measuring beach profiles on Long Island in GEO-106
Lauren Graniero - Freshwater mussel shells as archives of past African river biogeochemistry
Nick Weidhaas -Biogeochemistry and sediment transport through a tropical Andean paternoster lake system
4th International Sclerochronology Conference, 2016 (Maine, USA)
Students: Potential thesis ideas
|Gillikin, D. P., A. Verheyden, and D. H. Goodwin (2017). Paleoclimate reconstruction from oxygen isotopes in a coral skeleton from East Africa: A data-enhanced learning experience. Hands-on-activity, Oceanography magazine 30(1), https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2017.104.|
§Black H.D., C.F.T. Andrus, W.J. Lambert, D. P. Gillikin, and T. Rick, δ15N values in Crassostrea virginica shells provides earliest direct evidence for nitrogen loading in Chesapeake Bay. Scientific Reports 7:44241; doi: 10.1038/srep44241
|Gillikin, D. P., A. Lorrain, A. Jolivet, §Z. Kelemen, L. Chauvaud, and S. Bouillon (2017). High-resolution nitrogen stable isotope sclerochronology of bivalve shell carbonate-bound organics. Geochimica et Cosmochmica Acta 200: 55-66. DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2016.12.008|
§Graniero, L.E., D. Surge, D. P. Gillikin, I. Briz, and M. Alvarez (2017). Assessing elemental ratios as a paleotemperature proxy in calcite shells of patelloid limpets. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 465: 376-385. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.10.021
|§Clark, J., A. Perez-Huerta, D. P. Gillikin, A. Aldridge, M. Reolid, and K. Endo (2016). Determination of paleoseasonality and specimen ontogenetic ages of fossil brachiopods using shell spiral deviations and chemical proxies. Palaeoworld 25: 662-674. DOI:10.1016/j.palwor.2016.05.010|
§Poulain, C., D. P. Gillikin, J. Thebault, J.-M. Munaron, M. Bohn, R. Robert, Y.-M. Paulet, and A. Lorrain (2015). An evaluation of Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, and Ba/Ca ratios as environmental proxies in aragonite bivalve shells. Chemical Geology 396: 42-50. doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2014.12.019
|§Allan, M., N. Fagel, M. Van Rampelbergh, J. Baldini, J. Riotte, H. Cheng, L. Edwards, D. P. Gillikin, Y. Quinif, S. Verheyden (2015). Lead concentrations and isotope ratios in speleothems as proxies for atmospheric metal pollution since the Industrial Revolution, Chemical Geology 401: 140-150. doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2015.02.035|
|*O’Neil, D.D., and D. P. Gillikin (2014). Do freshwater mussel shells record road salt pollution? Scientific Reports (Nature) 4:7168; doi:10.1038/srep07168.|
|Bouillon, S., A. Yambele, D. P. Gillikin, C. Teodoru, F. Darchambeau, T. Lambert, and A. V. Borges (2014). Contrasting biogeochemical characteristics of right-bank tributaries and a comparison with the mainstem Oubangui River, Central African Republic (Congo River basin). Scientific Reports (Nature) 4:5402; doi:10.1038/srep05402|
Schöne, B. R., and D. P. Gillikin (2013). Unraveling environmental histories from skeletal diaries - advances in sclerochronology. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 373: 1-5. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.11.026
|Gillikin, D. P. and F. Dehairs (2013). Uranium in aragonitic marine bivalve shells. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 373:60-65 doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.02.028|
|Goodwin, D.H., D. P. Gillikin and P.D. Roopnarine (2013). Preliminary evaluation of potential stable isotope and trace element productivity proxies in the oyster Crassostrea gigas. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 373:88-97 doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.03. 034|
|Bouillon, S., A. Yambele, R. G. M. Spencer, D. P. Gillikin, P. J. Hernes, J. Six, R. Merckx, and A. V. Borges (2012). Organic matter sources, fluxes andgreenhouse gas exchange in the Oubangui River (Congo River basin). Biogeosciences, 9, 2045-2062. doi:10.5194/bg-9-2045-2012|
Bouillon, S., R.M. Connolly, and D. P. Gillikin (2012). Use of stable isotopes to understand food webs and ecosystem functioning in estuaries. In: Heip C, Philippart K, & Middelburg JJ (eds) Ecosystem processes in estuaries and coasts. Volume 7 of Wolanski & McLusky (eds) Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science. Elsevier Pages 143-173. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-374711-2.00711-7 email for reprint
|§Nerot, C., A. Lorrain, J. Grall, D. P. Gillikin, J.-M. Munaron, H. Le Bris, Y.-M. Paulet (2012). Stable isotope variations in benthic filter feeders across a large depth gradient on the continental shelf. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 96: 228-235. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2011.11.004|
|Versteegh, E.A.A., D. P. Gillikin and F. Dehairs (2011). Analysis of δ15N values in mollusk shell organic matrix by EA-IRMS without acidification: an evaluation and effects of long-term preservation. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 25: 675-680. doi: 10.1002/rcm.4905|
Cunningham, M. A., K. M. Menking, D. P. Gillikin, S. L. Belli, *C. Freimuth, *K. C. Smith, A. M. Pregnall, M. A. Schlessman, P. Batur, (2010). Influence of open space on water quality in an urban stream. Physical Geography 31:336-356.
|§Poulain, C., A. Lorrain, R. Mas, D. P. Gillikin, F. Dehairs, R. Robert, and Y.-M. Paulet (2010). Experimental shift of diet and DIC stable carbon isotopes: influence on shell δ13C values in the Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum. Chemical Geology 272: 75-82.|
|Schöne, B. R., Z. Zhang, D. Jacob, D. P. Gillikin, T. Tütken, D. Garbe-Schönberg, T. McConnaughey, and A. Soldati (2010). Effect of organic matrices on the determination of the trace element chemistry (Mg, Sr, Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca) of aragonitic bivalve shells (Arctica islandica) – comparison of ICP-OES and LA-ICP-MS data. Geochemical Journal 44: 23-37.|
|Gillikin, D. P., *K. Hutchinson and *Y. Kumai, (2009). Ontogenic increase of metabolic carbon in freshwater mussel shells (Pyganodon cataracta). Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 114, G01007,doi:10.1029/2008JG000829.|
|Cunningham M. A., C. M. O’Reilly, K. M. Menking, D. P. Gillikin, §K. C. Smith, §C. A. Foley, S. L. Belli, A. M. Pregnall, M. A. Schlessman, and P. Batur (2009). The suburban stream syndrome: evaluating land use and stream impairments in the suburbs. Physical Geography 30: 269-284.|
|Gillikin, D. P., A. Lorrain, Y.-M. Paulet, L. André, and F. Dehairs, (2008). Synchronous barium peaks in high-resolution profiles of calcite and aragonite marine bivalve shells. Geo-Marine Letters 28: 351-358.|
|McConnaughey, T. A. and D. P. Gillikin, (2008). Carbon isotopes in mollusk shell carbonates. Geo-Marine Letters 28: 287-299.|
|Gröcke D. R. and D. P. Gillikin, (2008). Advances in mollusc sclerochronology and sclerochemistry: tools for understanding climate and environment. Geo-Marine Letters 28: 265-268.|
|Gillikin, D. P., A. Lorrain, §L. Meng and F. Dehairs, (2007). A large metabolic carbon contribution to the δ13C record in marine aragonitic bivalve shells. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 71: 2936-2946.|
|Gillikin D. P. and S. Bouillon (2007) Determination of δ18O of water and δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon using a simple modification of an elemental analyzer – isotope ratio mass spectrometer (EA-IRMS): an evaluation. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 21: 1475-1478.|
Gillikin, D. P., F. Dehairs, A. Lorrain, §D. Steenmans, W. Baeyens, and L. André (2006). Barium uptake into the shells of the common mussel (Mytilus edulis) and the potential for estuarine paleo-chemistry reconstruction. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 70: 395-407.
|Gillikin, D. P. , A. Lorrain, S. Bouillon, P. Willenz and F. Dehairs, (2006). Stable carbon isotopic composition of Mytilus edulis shells: relation to metabolism, salinity δ13CDIC and phytoplankton. Organic Geochemistry 37: 1371-1382.|
|Schöne, B. R., D. L. Rodland, D. M. Surge, J. Fiebig, D. P. Gillikin, S. M. Baier, and A. Goewert (2006). Comment on “Stable carbon isotopes in freshwater mussel shells: Environmental record or marker for metabolic activity?” by J. Geist et al. (2005). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 70: 2658-2661.|
|Lorrain A., D. P. Gillikin, Y.-M. Paulet, L. Chauvaud, A. Le Mercier, J. Navez, L. André, 2005. Strong kinetic effects on Sr/Ca ratios in the calcitic bivalve Pecten maximus. Geology 33: 965-968. [see our image on the cover]|
|Gillikin, D. P., F. Dehairs, W. Baeyens, J. Navez, A. Lorrain and L. André, 2005. Inter- and intra-annual variations of Pb/Ca ratios in clam shells (Mercenaria mercenaria): a record of anthropogenic lead pollution? Marine Pollution Bulletin 50: 1530-1540.|
Gillikin, D. P., A. Lorrain, J. Navez, §J. W. Taylor, L. André, E. Keppens, W. Baeyens and F. Dehairs, 2005 . Strong biological controls on Sr/Ca ratios in aragonitic marine bivalve shells. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 6, Q05009, doi:10.1029/2004GC000874.
|Gillikin, D. P., F. De Ridder, §H. Ulens, M. Elskens, E. Keppens, W. Baeyens and F. Dehairs, 2005 . Assessing the reproducibility and reliability of estuarine bivalve shells (Saxidomus giganteus) for sea surface temperature reconstruction: implications for paleoclimate studies. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 228: 70-85.|
|Gillikin, D.P., 2005. Geochemistry of Marine Bivalve Shells: the potential for paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Ph.D. thesis. Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, p. 258. [6.98 Mb]|
|De Ridder, F., R. Pintelon, J. Schoukens and D. P. Gillikin, 2005. Modified AIC and MDL model selection criteria for short data records. IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement 54 (1): 144-150.|
|De Ridder, F., R. Pintelon, J. Schoukens, D. P. Gillikin, L. André, W. Baeyens, A. de Brauwere and F. Dehairs, 2004. Decoding Non-linear Growth Rates in Biogenic Environmental Archives. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 5, Q12015, doi:10.1029/2004GC000771.|
Mangrove crab ecology papers
|Gillikin, D.P. and C.D. Schubart, 2004. Ecology and systematics of mangrove crabs of the genus Perisesarma (Crustacea: Brachyura: Sesarmidae) from East Africa. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 141 (3): 435-445. (a new species of Kenyan mangrove crab)|
|Gillikin, D.P., B. De Wachter and J.F. Tack, 2004. Physiological responses of two ecologically important Kenyan mangrove crabs exposed to altered salinity regimes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 301(1):93-109.|
Gillikin, D.P. and §C.P. Kamanu, 2005. Burrowing in the East African mangrove crab, Chiromantes ortmanni (Crosnier, 1965) (Decapoda, Bracayura, Sesarmidae). Crustaceana.78: 1273-1275.
|Gillikin, D.P., 2004. Osmoregulatory ability of Chiromantes ortmanni (Crosnier, 1965) subjected to dilute and hypersaline seawater. Crustaceana 77(1): 67-74.|
|Gillikin, D.P., S. De Grave and J.F. Tack, 2001. The occurrence of the semi-terrestrial shrimp Merguia oligodon (De Man, 1888) in Neosarmatium smithi H. Milne Edwards, 1853 burrows in Kenyan mangroves. Crustaceana 74(5): 505-508.|
Geology Field Excursion
Ongoing Daan Vanhove, Reconstructing the biogeochemistry in tropical aquatic ecosystems using elemental and stable isotope tracers in freshwater bivalve shells. Joint Post Doc with KU Leuven, Belgium.
Lauren Graniero, Detecting seasonal variations in nitrogen and carbon sources to an impacted river and its estuary using bivalve shell δ15N and δ13C. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (committee member).
Stephen Durham, Oysters and climate change: a geohistorical perspective. Cornell University (committee member).
Thomas J. Geeza. Trace and major element ratios in freshwater mussel shells as indicators of fracking fluids and surface water quality in Western Pennsylvania. Ph.D. Penn. State (committee member).
In prep Zita Kelemen. Freshwater bivalve shells as archives of riverine geochemistry and discharge in African river basins. Ph.D. KU Leuven, Belgium (co-advisor).
2016 Hillary Sletten. Rhodolith geochemistry as an ocean acidification proxy. Ph.D. University of Alabama (committee member).
2014 Heather Black. δ15N in mollusk shells as a potential paleoenvironmental proxy for nitrogen loading in Chesapeake Bay. M.Sc. University of Alabama (committee member).
2005 Ivy Meert. Reconstructing the environmental conditions of a European estuary (the Scheldt) over the past 800 years using Mytilus edulis shells. M.Sc. thesis. Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. [winner of “best thesis of the year” awarded by the Flemish Institute of Sea Research (VLIZ)]
2004 Dirk Steenmans. Validation of marine bivalve carbonate skeletons as recorders of paleo-productivity. M.Sc. thesis. Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
2004 Li Meng. Can bivalves be used as archives of anthropogenic carbon input to the marine environment? M.Sc. thesis. Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.
2003 Hans Ulens. The potentials of Saxidomus giganteus as a paleoclimate proxy. M.Sc. thesis. Gent University, Belgium.
Union college BSc
2016 Caitlin McManimon. The effect of land use change on stable isotope (δ<sup>13</sup>C and δ<sup>15</sup>N) composition and heavy metal concentrations in Connecticut wetlands during the Holocene. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2015 Nicholas Weidhaas. Biogeochemistry and sediment transport through a tropical Andean paternoster lake system: A modern calibration proxy for limnologically-based climate reconstructions. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2015 Robert Queirolo. Late Holocene Climate Reconstruction Using Stable Isotopes in a Speleothem from Gage Caverns, New York. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2015 Christopher Kelly. Speleothem Trace Element Signatures Record a 4,200-year Period of Stable Climate during the Mid-Late Holocene at Gage Caverns, NY. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2015 Matthew McGavick. Eemian seasonality from a Belgian speleothem. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2014 Kyle McQuiggan. Holocene climate records from Belgian speleothems. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2014 Holly Havel. Recent sub-Saharan African climate change tracked using freshwater mussel shell geochemistry. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2013 Max Davidson. Vital effects on stable carbon isotopes in freshwater bivalve shells. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College (MSc program, U Delaware).
2013 Patrick Manning. Post-Irene suspended sediment, alkalinity and metal dynamics in the Schoharie and Mohawk Rivers. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2012 Lauren Graniero. Past biogeochemistry of remote African rivers recorded in freshwater mussel shells. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College. (MSc from Texas A&M; now in PhD program at UNC)
2012 Taylor LaBrecque. Holocene climate and environmental change from a short lake core in Upstate NY. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College (with Donald Rodbell). (PhD program, Northern Arizona University)
2012 Marc Zeyak. Holocene climate and environmental change from trace elements in a Belgian speleothem. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
2011 Damon Byrne. Tracking responses to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill using trace elements in molluscan shells. Undergraduate honors thesis, Union College.
Vassar College BSc
2010 Rachel Lowenthal. Carbonate biogeochemistry of estuaries in a high CO2 world: past, present, and future consequences for calcifying organisms. Undergraduate honors thesis, Vassar College. [Awarded: Sigma Xi]
2010 Zakary Ratajczak. Using wood chemistry (δ13C & δ18O) and tree anatomical physiology (tracheid density) to detect hurricane storm surges and predict future responses of Loblolly pine to climate change. Undergraduate honors thesis, Vassar College. (PhD program, Kansas State) [Awarded: Botanical Society of America Young Botanist; Sigma Xi]
2010 Sarah Ledford. The effect of mill-dam ponds on the biogeochemistry of small streams. Undergraduate honors thesis, Vassar College. (PhD program, Syracuse University) [Awarded: Sigma Xi]
2010 Nadine Reitman. Paleoecology and chemostratigraphy of the Amansair and Tsagaanbulag Formations, Gobi-Altai Terrane, Shine Jinst, Mongolia. Undergraduate honors thesis and Keck Geology Consortium project, Vassar College. (MSc program, CU Boulder) [Awarded: Sigma Xi]
2009 Erika Noll. Carbon cycling in small streams in Dutchess County, NY. Undergraduate Research Summer Institute project. (MSc program, UC Riverside)
2009 Wilson Salls. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures of freshwater algae from the Caspserkill (Eastern NY). Undergraduate honors thesis, Vassar College. (MSc program, UC Davis) [Awarded: Sigma Xi]
2009 Matthew Winnick. Evaluating the freshwater mussel Elliptio complanata as a proxy for road salt pollution in northeastern US streams. Undergraduate honors thesis, Vassar College. (PhD program, Stanford) [Awarded: Sigma Xi]
2008 Adam Jost. Carbon isotope stratigraphy and the Silurian-Devonian boundary in the Eastern Appalachian Basin. Undergraduate honors thesis, Vassar College. (PhD program, Stanford) [Awarded: Sigma Xi]
2008 Shana Volesky. Dendrochemistry as an indicator of soil salt concentrations. Undergraduate honors thesis, Vassar College. (works at Schlumberger)
David P. Gillikin, Ph.D.
Perisesarma samawati Gillikin & Schubart 2004