Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department of Paleobiology

  • Arden R. Bashforth
  • Post Doctoral Fellow
  • Phone:   202-633-1319
  • Fax:   202-786-2832
  • E-mail Address:   bashfortha
  • 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


Ph.D. Dalhousie University, 2010
M.Sc. Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1999
B.Sc. (Spec.) Brandon University, 1996

Research Interests

As a paleobotanist, I study plant fossils and the rocks within which they are preserved. My research focuses on the remains of vegetation that existed during the Pennsylvanian, a period of Earth history when peat-forming swamps covered vast areas of tropical landscape. Through the ≈300 million years since their accumulation and burial, these unique ecosystems (the so-called ‘Coal Forests) are today represented by thick, mineable coal seams in North America and Europe. I am particularly interested in the paleoecology of Pennsylvanian vegetation: the distribution and composition of plant communities in different depositional settings, and how these communities reorganized in time and space in response to changing environmental conditions. Prior to arriving at the Smithsonian Institution, my fieldwork mainly involved collecting, describing, and quantifying plant fossil assemblages in eastern Canada, the Czech Republic, and northern Spain.

Postdoctoral Research

While at the Smithsonian, my postdoctoral project will concentrate on a taxonomic reinvestigation of a suite of plant fossils that was collected during the early 20th century by the prominent American paleobotanist, David White. A visionary in the field of plant biostratigraphy, White sought to develop a consistent taxonomic scheme to facilitate correlation of Pennsylvanian strata throughout the USA based on plant fossils. Prior to his death, White produced a seminal monograph on fossil floras in the Illinois Basin, and introduced a biostratigraphic framework that would have formed the basis for regional correlations within the USA and comparisons with coeval strata in Canada and Europe. Although this manuscript was never published, it remains intact. The resurrection of White’s monograph will result in the most modern and, from a nomenclatural standpoint, up-to-date taxonomic treatment of Pennsylvanian plant fossils in the world. It is anticipated that the revamped publication will become a cornerstone for further floristic and paleoecological analyses of Pennsylvanian strata throughout North America and Europe.

Publications (link)