Christina L. Belanger

Christina L. Belanger

Assistant Professor

Marine Paleoecology, Paleoenvironments, Climate Change, Foraminifera, Invertebrates

  (979) 458-4372

  Halbouty 265


Identifying how organisms respond, why they respond, and to which environmental factors they are primarily responding is integral to understanding how future climate change will affect the modern biota as well as to inform efforts to sustain biodiversity and economically important fisheries.

Shelled organisms, such as molluscs and foraminifera, are abundant and well-preserved in the fossil record and in museum collections of modern specimens. These preserved assemblages allow longer-term perspectives on biotic response and climate change - millennia to millions of years - than is possible in exclusively present-day ecological studies. The fossil record also allows trends in these natural communities to be analyzed before, during, and after changes in climate without needing to wait for the events to occur in real time.

My research involves:

  • Reconstructing paleoenvironments using geochemical and faunal proxies
  • Investigating ecological and physiological responses to environmental change in the fossil record
  • Evaluating the influence of oceanographic factors on marine biogeography

My recent work has focused on:

  • Low-oxygen events in the Gulf of Alaska over the past 60,000 years
  • Benthic foraminifera
  • Cretaceous cold-seep invertebrate faunas and their ecological similarity to modern Gulf of Mexico faunas

Selected Publications

*Laird, J. and C. Belanger, 2019. Cretaceous Black Hills tepee buttes provide ecological analogs for modern Gulf of Mexico cold-seeps. Paleobiology 45: 114-135.

Belanger, C., *O. Orhun, and **C. Schiller, 2016. Benthic foraminiferal faunas reveal transport dynamics and no-analog environments on a glaciated margin (Gulf of Alaska). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 454: 54-64.

Gulick, Sean P.S., J. M. Jaeger, A. C. Mix, H. Asahi, H. Bahlburg, C. Belanger, G. B. B. Berbel, L. Childress, E. Cowan, M. H. Davies, L. Drab, F. Dottori, M. Forwick, A. Fukumura, S. Ge, S. Gupta, A. Kioka, S. Konno, L. LeVay, C. März, K. Matsuzaki, E. McClymont, C. Moy, J. Müller, A. Nakamura, T. Ojima, K. Ridgway, O. Romero, A. Slagle, J. Stoner, G. St-Onge, I. Suto, L. Worthington, I. Bailey, E. Enkelmann, and R. Reece, 2015. Nonlinear feedback between tectonic uplift and glacial erosion constrained by Gulf of Alaska sedimentary record. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112: 15042-15047.

Jaeger, J.M., Gulick, S.P.S., LeVay, L.J. and the Expedition 341 Scientists, 2014. Proceedings. IODP, 341: College Station, TX (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program).

Belanger, C. and *M. Villarosa Garcia, 2014. Differential drivers of benthic foraminiferal and molluscan community composition from a multivariate record of Early Miocene environmental change. Paleobiology, 40 (3): 398-416.

Seddon, A. W. R., A. W. Mackay, A. G. Baker….and the Palaeo50 working group, 2014. Looking forward through the past: Identification of fifty priority research questions in palaeoecology. Journal of Ecology, 102 (1): 256-267.

Expedition 341 Scientists, 2013. Southern Alaska Margin: interactions of tectonics, climate, and sedimentation. IODP Preliminary Report, 341. doi:10.2204/

Jablonski, D., C. Belanger, S. K. Berke, S. Huang, A. Z. Krug, K. Roy, A. Tomasovych, J. W. Valentine, 2013. Out of the tropics, but how? Fossils, bridge species, and thermal ranges in the dynamics of the marine latitudinal diversity gradient. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110:10487-10494, doi:10.1073/pnas.1308997110.

Belanger, C., 2012. Individual to community-level faunal responses to environmental change from a marine fossil record of Early Miocene global warming. PLoS ONE, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036290.

Belanger, C., D. Jablonski, K. Roy, S. K. Berke, A. Z. Krug, and J. W. Valentine, 2012. Global environmental predictors of benthic marine biogeographic structure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109: 14046-14051, doi:10.1073/pnas.1212381109.

Belanger, C., 2011. Evaluating taphonomic effects on paleoecological analyses of a fossil benthic foraminiferal fauna using taphonomic grading. PALAIOS 26: 767-788.

Belanger, C., 2011. Coastal dysoxia accompanies Early Miocene warming based on benthic foraminifera and sedimentary records from Oregon. Marine Micropaleontology 80: 101-113.

Kristjánsdóttir, G. B., D. W. Lea, A. E. Jennings, D. K. Pak, and C. Belanger, 2007. New spatial Mg/Ca-temperature calibrations for three Arctic, benthic foraminifera and reconstruction of north Iceland shelf temperature for the past 4000 years, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 8, Q03P21, doi:10.1029/2006GC001425

Lea, D. W, D. K. Pak, C. L. Belanger, H. J. Spero, M. A. Hall and N. J. Shackleton, 2006. Paleoclimate history of Galápagos surface waters over the last 135,000 yr. Quaternary Science Reviews 25(11-12): 1152-1167.


*Indicates student author


PhD - 2011 – University of Chicago - Department of Geophysical Sciences

BA – 2005 – University of California, Santa Barbara – College of Creative Studies


Collaborative Research: Distinguishing the drivers of benthic foraminiferal faunal change to improve mechanistic interpretations of abrupt hypoxic events in the North Pacific, $479,338, NSF-P2C2 (September 2015-August 2018) – P.I. Belanger, Co-PI Mix (Oregon State University)

Curation and Digitization of Newly Acquired Modern and Fossil Invertebrate and Protist Research Collections at the SDSM&T Museum of Geology, $499,887, NSF-DBI Collections in Support of Biological Research (awarded 2014) – P.I. Anderson, Co-P.I.s Belanger, Pagnac, Shelton

Dynamics and drivers of faunal changes in relation to productivity and oxygenation through glacial-interglacial cycles, $14,981, COL-NSF-IODP-USSP (awarded 2014) – P.I. Belanger

Advancing Collections Digitization, Integration, and Access for the SDSM&T Museum of Geology, $149,028, IMLS Museums for America (awarded 2013) – P.I. Anderson, Co-P.I.s Belanger, Pagnac, Price, Shelton

Expedition 341 Basic Subaward Agreement, $20,955, COL-NSF-IODP-USSP (awarded 2013) – P.I. Belanger

Biological Responses to Climate Change: Physiological and Community-level Responses to the Miocene Climate Optimum (Early Miocene Astoria Formation, Oregon), $13,995, NSF DDIG (awarded 2008)

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, $120,000 (awarded 2005)


Geol 152 – History of the Earth

Geol 208 – Life on a Dynamic Planet

Geol 305 - Paleobiology

Geol 311 – Geological Writing

Geol 314 – Paleontology and Geobiology

Geol 651 – Paleoecological Community Analysis

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