Bruce S. Lieberman

Bruce Lieberman
  • Senior Curator, Invertebrate Paleontology Division, Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum
  • Professor, Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology


Dr. Bruce Lieberman is a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist interested in macroevolution and the evolutionary history of invertebrates.


Postdoctoral Fellowship in Earth Sciences, Harvard University, 1998, Cambridge, MA
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Yale University, 1995, New Haven, CT
Ph.D. in Geological Sciences, Columbia University, 1994, New York, NY
M.A. in Geological Sciences, Columbia University, 1991, New York, NY
B.A. in Geological Sciences, Harvard University, 1988, Cambridge, MA
summa cum laude


I use various research approaches including phylogenetics, geographic information systems (GIS) and ecological niche modeling (ENM) to study key time periods in the history of life to gain deeper insight into macroevolution. Much of my research has focused on fossil arthropods, especially trilobites, but in collaboration with students and post-docs I have worked with other taxa including mollusks. I am interested in various topics including evolutionary radiations, mass extinctions, the relative roles abiotic and biotic factors play in motivating evolution, macroevolutionary theory, phylogenetic methods and theory, levels of selection, and mechanisms of evolutionary stasis.

Selected Publications


Lieberman, B. S. Paleontology and the Origin of Species: A Macroevolutionary Synthesis. Oxford University Press, New York. In prep.

Wiley, E. O., and B. S. Lieberman. 2011. Phylogenetics, 2nd edition. J. Wiley & Sons, New York. 432 p.

Lieberman, B. S., and R. A. Kaesler. 2010. Prehistoric Life: Evolution and the Fossil Record. Wiley/Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, UK, 385 p.

Lieberman, B. S., A. Stigall Rode, editors. 2005. Paleobiogeography: Generating New Insights into the Coevolution of the Earth and Its Biota. Paleontological Society Papers 11, Paleontological Society, Lawrence, KS, 158 pp.

Adrain, J., G. D. Edgecombe, and B. S. Lieberman, editors. 2001. Fossils, Phylogeny, and Form: An Analytical Approach. Plenum Press/Kluwer Academic Publishers, New York.

Lieberman, B. S. 2000. Paleobiogeography: Using Fossils to Study Global Change, Plate Tectonics, and Evolution. Plenum Press/Kluwer Academic Publishers, New York.

Special Issues of Journals Edited

Lieberman, B. S., editor. 2012. Biogeography: The Geography of Evolution. Evolution: Education and Outreach Vol. 5, #4.

Recent Journal Articles And Book Chapters (*=Monograph)

Pates, S., Daley, A. C., Edgecombe, G. D., Cong, P., and Lieberman, B. S.2019. Systematics, preservation and biogeography of radiodonts from the southern Great Basin, USA, during the Upper Dyeran (Cambrian Series 2, Stage 4). Papers in Palaeontology.

Kimmig, J., Couto, H., Leibach, W. W., and Lieberman, B. S. 2019. Soft-bodied fossils from the upper Valongo Formation (Middle Ordovician: Dapingian-Darriwilian) of northern Portugal. The Science of Nature 106:27.

Tang, Q., Hu, J., Xie, G., Yuan, X, Wan, B., Zhou, C., Dong, X., Cao, G., Lieberman, B. S., Leys, S. P., and Xiao, S. 2019. A problematic animal fossil from the early Cambrian Hetang Formation, South ChinaJournal of Paleontology

Kolis, K. C., and Lieberman, B. S. 2019. Using GIS to examine biogeographic and macroevolutionary patterns in some late Paleozoic cephalopods from the North American Midcontinent Sea. PeerJ 7:e6910.

Kimmig, J., Strotz, L. C., Kimmig, S. R., Egenhoff, S. O., and Lieberman, B. S. 2019. The Spece Shale Lagerstätte: an Important Window into Cambrian BiodiversityJournal of the Geological Society of London 176:609–619.

Kimmig, J., Meyer, R. C., and Lieberman, B. S. 2019. Herpetogaster from the early Cambrian of Nevada (Series 2, Stage 4) and its implications for the evolution of deuterostomesGeological Magazine 156:172–178.

Strotz, L. C., Saupe, E. E., Kimmig, J., and Lieberman, B. S.2018. Metabolic rates, climate and macroevolution: A case study using Neogene molluscsProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 285:20181292.

Lieberman, B. S., and Kimmig, J. 2018. Museums, Paleontology, and a Biodiversity Science Based Approach. In G. D. Rosenberg, & R. M. Clary (Eds.), Museums at the Forefront of the History and Philosophy of Geology: History Made, History in the MakingGeological Society of America Special Paper 535:335–348.

Strotz, L. C., Simões, M., Girard, M., Breitkreuz, L., Kimmig, J., and Lieberman, B. S. 2018. Getting Somewhere with the Red Queen: Chasing a Biologically Modern Definition of the HypothesisBiology Letters 14:20170734.

Pates, S., Daley, A. C., and Lieberman, B. S. 2018. Hurdiid radiodontans from the Middle Cambrian of Utah. Journal of Paleontology 92:99–113.

Melott, A. L., Pivuranas, A., Meert, J. G., and Lieberman, B. S. 2018. Does the planetary dynamo go cycling on? Re-examining the evidence for cycles in magnetic reversal rateInternational Journal of Astrobiology 17:44-50.

Evans, K. R., McKenna III, L. W., Lieberman, B. S., Weichert, W.D., and MacLeod, K.G. 2018. Geology of the Nelson Limestone, Postel Nunatak, Patuxent Range, AntarcticaAntarctic Science 30: 29–43.

Simões, M. V., Lieberman, B. S., Soberón, J., and Townsend Peterson, A. 2017. Testing environmental correlates of clines in clades: an example from cassidine beetlesInsect Conservation and Diversity 10: 472–482.

Kimmig, J., Strotz, L. C., and Lieberman, B. S. 2017. The stalked filter feeder Siphusauctum lloydguntheri n. sp. from the middle Cambrian (Series 3: Stage 5) Spence Shale of Utah: Its biological affinities and taphonomy. Journal of Paleontology 91:902-910. DOI://10.1017/jpa.2017.57

Lieberman, B. S., Kurkewicz, R., Shinogle, H. , Kimmig, J., and MacGabhann, B.A. 2017. Disc-shaped fossils resembling porpitids or eldonids from the early Cambrian (Series 2: Stage 4) of western U.S.APeerJ 5:e3312

Lieberman, B. S. 2016. Pattern versus processes and hierarchies: Revisiting eternal metamorphs in macroevolutionary theory. In N. Eldrege, T. Pievani, E. Serrelli, & I. Temkin (Eds.), Evolutionary Theory: A Hierachical Perspective. University of Chicago Press. (p. 29–46). University of Chicago Press.

Lieberman, B. S., and Saupe, E. E. 2016. Palaeoniches get stiches: analyses of niches informing macroevolutionary theoryLethaia 49: 149–159.

Simöes, M., Breitkreuz, L., Alvarada, M., Baca, S., Cooper, J. C., Heins, L., Herzog, K., and Lieberman, B.S. 2016. The evolving theory of evolutionary radiationsTrends in Ecologo & Evolution (TREE) 31: 21–34.

Hendricks, J. R., Stigall, A. L., and Lieberman, B. S. 2015. The Digital Atlas of Ancient Life: delivering information on paleontology and biogeography via the webPaleontologica Electronica 18: (2.3E).

Saupe, E. E., Qiao, H. Hendricks, J. R., Portell, R. W., Hunter, S. J., Soberon, J., and Lieberman, B. S. 2015. Estimating extinction risk as a function of niche breadth and geographic range size: a case study ysing Pliocene–recent Atlantic Coastel Plain mollusksGlobal Ecology and Biogeography 24: 1159–1169.

Myers, C. E., Stigall, A. L., and Lieberman, B. S. 2015. PaleoENM: Applying ecological niche modeling to the fossil recordPaleobiology 41(2): 226–244.

Casey, M. M., and Lieberman, B. S. 2014. Beyond Memorization: An Intermediate-level Paleontology Activity That Integrates Anatomy, Ecology, and Macroevolutionary Theory Using TrilobitesEvolution and Outreach 7(20): 1–10.

Saupe, E. E., J. R. Hendricks, R. W. Portell, H. J. Dowsett, A. Haywood, S. Hunter, and B. S. Lieberman. 2014. Macroevolutionary consequences of climate change on niche evolution in marine mollusks over the past three million yearsProceedings of the Royal Society B 281, 20141995.

Gapp, I. W., and B. S. Lieberman. 2014. New Olenelloid trilobites from the Northwest Territories, CanadaZootaxa. 3866(4): 479–498.

Lieberman, B. S., and N. Eldredge. 2014. What is punctuated equilibrium? What is macroevolutionTrends in Ecology & Evolution (TREE) 29:185-186.

Saupe, E. E., J. R. Hendricks, A. T. Peterson, and B. S. Lieberman. 2014. Climate change and marine molluscs of the western North Atlantic: future prospects and perilsJournal of Biogeography 41: 1352–1366.

Lieberman, B. S., and A. L. Melott. 2013. Declining volatility, a general property of disparate systems: from fossils, to stocks, to the starsPalaeontology 56:1297-1304.

Álvaro, J. Javier, P. Ahlberg, L. E. Babcock, O. L. Bordonaro, D. K. Choi, R. A. Cooper, G. K. Ergaliev, I. W. Gapp, M. G. Pour, N. C. Hughes, J. B. Jago, I. Korovnikov, J. R. Laurie, B. S. Lieberman, J. R. Paterson, T. V. Pegel, L. E. Popov, A. W. A. Rushton, M. F. Tortello, Z. Zhou, and A. Zylinska. 2013. Global Cambrian trilobite paleobiogeography assessed using Parsimony Analysis of EndemicityGeological Society of London, Memoir Series: 38:273-296. Early Palaeozoic Biogeography and Palaeogeography, D. Harper and T. Servais (eds.).

Myers, C. E., R. A. MacKenzie III, and B. S. Lieberman. 2013. A GIS approach to studying greenhouse biogeography: invasion and extinction in the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway. Paleobiology 39:135-148.

Gapp, I. W., C. R. Congreve, and B. S. Lieberman. 2012. Unraveling the phylogenetic relationships of the Eccoptochilinae, an enigmatic array of Ordovician cheirurid trilobitesPLoS One 7(11): e49115.

Lieberman, B. S. 2012. The geography of evolution and the evolution of geographyEvolution Education and Outreach 5:521-525.

Lieberman, B. S. 2012. Adaptive radiations in the context of macroevolutionary theory: a paleontological perspective. Evolutionary Biology 39:181-191.

Peterson, A. T., and B. S. Lieberman. 2012. Species’ geographic distributions through time: playing catchup with changing climatesEvolution Education and Outreach 5:569-581.

Marshall, A. Olcott, R. L. Wehrbein, B. S. Lieberman, and C. P. Marshall. 2012. Raman spectroscopic investigations of Burgess Shale-type preservation: a new way forward. Palaios 27:288-292.

Abe, F. R, and B. S. Lieberman. 2012. Quantifying morphological change during an evolutionary radiation of Devonian trilobites. Paleobiology 38(2):292-307.

Lieberman, B. S., and A. L. Melott. 2012. Whilst this planet goes cycling on: What role for periodic astronomical phenomena in large scale patterns in the history of life? Pp. 37-50 in J. Talent (Ed.), Earth and Life: Global Biodiversity, Extinction Intervals, and Biogeographic Perturbations Through Time, International Year of Planet Earth. Springer, Berlin.

Lieberman, B. S., and P. Cartwright. 2011. Macroevolutionary patterns and processes during the Cambrian radiation: Integrating evidence from fossils and molecules.  Açoreana 7:15-38.

Congreve, C. R., and B. S. Lieberman. 2011. Phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of sphaerexochine trilobites. PloS One 6:e21304.

Lieberman, B. S. 2011. Presentation of the 2008 Paleontological Society Medal to Niles Eldredge. Journal of Paleontology 85:806.

Gapp, I. W., B. S. Lieberman, M. C. Pope, and K. Dilliard. 2011. New olenelline trilobites from the Northwest Territories, Canada, and the phylogenetic placement of Judomia absitaZootaxa 2918:15-28.

Myers, C., and B. S. Lieberman. 2011. Sharks that pass in the night: Using GIS to investigate competition in the Cretaceous Western Interior SeawayProceedings of the Royal Society, Series B. 278:681-689.

Yu-nan, W., Di-ying, H., and B. S. Lieberman. 2010. New Isoxys (Arthropoda) from the Cambrian Mantou Formation, Shandong Province. Acta Palaeontologica Sinica 49:398-406.

Abe, F. R., B. S. Lieberman, M. C. Pope, and K. Dilliard. 2010. New information on olenelline trilobites from the Early Cambrian Sekwi Formation, northwestern Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 47:1445-1449.

Lieberman, B. S., and T. S. Karim. 2010. Tracing the trilobite tree from the root to the tips: a model marriage of fossils and phylogenyArthropod Structure & Development 39:111-123.

Abe, F. R., and B. S. Lieberman. 2009. The Nature of evolutionary radiations: A case study involving Devonian trilobitesEvolutionary Biology 36:225-234.

Moore, R. A., and B. S. Lieberman. 2009. Preservation of Early and Middle Cambrian soft-bodied arthropods from the Pioche Shale, Nevada, USAPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 277:57-62.

Hendricks, J. R., B. S. Lieberman, and A. L. Stigall. 2008. Using GIS to study the paleobiogeography of soft-bodied Cambrian arthropodsPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology 264:163-175.

Creative Works

The History of Life: A Brief Survey. 2012-Present
Trilobites: Extinct Evolutionary Marvels. 2011-Present

Awards & Honors

Present Fellow of the Paleontological Society

Schuchert Award from the Paleontological Society to a paleontologist under 40 whose research and career demonstrates excellence and promise

Paleontological Society distinguished lecturer

Grants & Other Funded Activity

Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: The Cretaceous World: Digitizing Fossils to Reconstruct Evolving Ecosystems in the Western Interior Seaway. NSF Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections. $519,636. (7/1/2016 - 6/30/2020). Federal. Status: Funded. KU is the lead institution and I am the lead PI, with co-PIs at KU Jim Beach and Chris Beard and co-PIs at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Laurie Anderson and Maribeth Price, along with collaborators at American Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University/Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Paleontological Research Institution, University of Colorado, University of New Mexico, University of Texas, and Yale University; $2,100,000 total, with $519,636 to KU

Integrating fossil data into likelihood-based phylogenetic analyses with trilobites as a model system. NSF Systematic Biology. $448,665. (1/1/2013 - 9/30/2019). Federal. Status: Funded

Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: Digitizing Fossils to Enable New Syntheses in Biogeography- Creating a PALEONICHES-TCN. NSF Emerging Frontiers, Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections. $600,000. (1/1/2012 - 6/30/2019). Federal. Status: Funded. Lieberman is the lead PI, with co-PIs at KU Una Farrell and Jim Beach and collaborators at San Jose State and Ohio University; $950,000 total, with $600,000 to KU

Revisionary systematics of Cheirurid trilobites. NSF Systematic Biology RevSys. $213,000. (1/1/2007 - 12/31/2013). Federal. Status: Funded. $450,000 total, with $213,000 to KU

Archiving the history of life: High-density storage to solve space needs for an invertebrate paleontology research and teaching collection. NSF DBI. $251,708. (1/1/2004 - 12/31/2010). Federal. Status: Funded

An integrative paleontological and paleoenvironmental study of the Middle Cambrian Spence, Wheeler, and Marjum soft-bodied faunas of Utah. NSF Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology. $110,000. (1/1/2005 - 12/31/2008). Federal. Status: Funded. $250,000 total, with $110,000 to KU

Did a gamma ray burst cause the late Ordovician mass extinction?. NASA Exobiology. $417,552. (1/1/2004 - 12/31/2007). Federal. Status: Funded

Self Faculty Scholar Award. KU Endowment Association. $150,000. (1/1/2003 - 12/31/2006). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded

A Sequence, Chemo-, and Biostratigraphic Study of Late Early Cambrian Rocks, Southern Selwyn Basin, Mackenzie Mountains, N.W.T., Canada. NSF Geology and Paleontology. $117,000. (1/1/2001 - 12/31/2005). Federal. Status: Funded. $212,000 total, with $117,000 to KU

Assessing the Long-Term Effects of Invasive Species Using the Fossil Record. NSF EPSCoR First Award. $35,000. (1/1/2000 - 12/31/2003). Federal. Status: Funded

Characterization of the Fauna of the Middle Cambrian Nelson Limestone: A Fauna of Relevance to Antarctic Geology. NSF-OPP Antarctic Geology and Geophysics. $60,000. (1/1/2000 - 12/31/2003). Federal. Status: Funded

Early Cambrian Climate and Evolution. National Geographic. $20,000. (1/1/2001 - 12/31/2002). Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded

Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Earth Sciences. National Science Foundation. $72,000. (1/1/1995 - 12/31/1997). Federal. Status: Funded