Professor Charles H Wellman

School of Biosciences

Professor of Palaeobiology

A photo of Charles Wellman
c.wellman@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 3689

Full contact details

Professor Charles H Wellman
School of Biosciences
Alfred Denny Building
Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TN
Profile
  • BSc (1987) University of Southampton, UK
  • PhD (1991) Cardiff University, Wales, UK
  • Postdoctoral Research Assistant, The Natural History Museum, London (1991-1992)
  • Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Cardiff University, Wales, UK (1994-1997)
  • Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor, School of Biosciences, University of Sheffield (1997-present)
Research interests

My research addresses the origin and early evolution of land plants. My research integrates evidence from both fossil and living plants. Fossil evidence is in the form of early land plant megafossils and dispersed microfossils (spores and fragments). I am currently working on material from the Ordovician-Devonian of China, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Spain and Spitsbergen. I study living plants in order to interpret the earliest land plant fossils through, specifically:

  • cladistic analyses of evolutionary relationships
  • molecular clock analyses of evolutionary divergence times
  • analysis of physiological adaptations required for plants to invade the land (particularly Evo-Devo studies on the molecular genetics of spore/pollen wall development).

I am also exploring the impact of the invasion of the land by plants on global change. This has led to research into developing a novel (and currently only) proxy for past UV-B radiation.

In recent years I have also extended my research back in time to examine a previously neglected research area considering the ‘algal scum’ that inhabited the land before it was invaded by plants. This has lead to work on microbial remains from the billion year old deposits of the Torridonian and Nonesuch Shale.

Publications

Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles

All publications

Journal articles

Chapters

  • Wellman CH & Ball AC (2021) Early land plant phytodebris, Geological Society Special Publication (pp. 309-320). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Graham L, Lewis LA, Taylor W, Wellman C & Cook M (2014) Early Terrestrialization: Transition from Algal to Bryophyte Grade, Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration (pp. 9-28). Springer Netherlands RIS download Bibtex download
  • Steemans P & Wellman CH (2004) Miospores and the emergence of land plants In Webby BD, Paris F, Droser ML & Percival IG (Ed.), The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (pp. 361-366). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Wellman CH (2004) Origin, function and development of the spore wall in early land plants, The Evolution of Plant Physiology (pp. 43-63). Elsevier RIS download Bibtex download
  • Wellman CH (2004) Origin, function and development of the spore wall in early land plants, The Evolution of Plant Physiology (pp. 43-63). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Edwards D & Wellman CH (2001) Embryophytes on land: The Ordovician to Lochkovian (Lower Devonian) record In Gensel PG & Edwards D (Ed.), Plants invade the land: Evolutionary and environmental perspectives (pp. 3-28). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Wellman CH & Axe L (1998) Extracting plant mesofossils and megafossils by bulk acid maceration In Jones TP & Rowe NP (Ed.), Fossil plants and spores: modern techniques (pp. 11-14). Geological Society, London RIS download Bibtex download
  • Edwards D & Wellman CH (1998) The fossil record of early land plants and interrelationships between primitive embryophytes: too little and too late? In Bates JW, Ashton NW & Duckett JG (Ed.), Bryology for the Twenty-first Century (pp. 15-43). British Bryological Society RIS download Bibtex download
  • Edwards D & Wellman CH (1996) Older plant macerals (excluding spores) In Jansonius J & McGregor DC (Ed.), Palynology: principals and applications (pp. 383-387). AASP Foundation RIS download Bibtex download
  • Puttick MN, Morris JL, Williams TA, Edwards D, Kenrick P, Pressel S, Wellman CH, Schneider H, Pisani D & Donoghue PCJ () How Advances in Phylogenetic Methods Change Our Understanding of the Evolutionary Emergence of Land Plants (Embryophyta) (pp. 1-11). Wiley RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

  • Guizar-Sicairos M, Holler M, Diaz A, da Silva JC, Tsai EHR, Bunk O, Martinez-Perez C, Donoghue PCJ, Wellman CH & Menzel A (2015) Ptychographic nanotomography at the Swiss Light Source. X-Ray Nanoimaging: Instruments and Methods II RIS download Bibtex download
  • Wellman CH & Gensel PG (2004) Morphology and wall ultrastructure of the spores of the Lower Devonian plant Oocampsa catheta Andrews et al., 1975. REVIEW OF PALAEOBOTANY AND PALYNOLOGY, Vol. 130(1-4) (pp 269-295) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Wellman CH, Kerp H & Hass H (2004) Spores of the Rhynie chert plant Horneophyton lignieri (Kidston & Lang) Barghoorn & Darrah, 1938. TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH-EARTH SCIENCES, Vol. 94 (pp 429-443) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Wellman CH (2003) Dating the origin of land plants. TELLING THE EVOLUTIONARY TIME: MOLECULAR CLOCKS AND THE FOSSIL RECORD(66) (pp 119-141) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Wellman CH (2001) Morphology and ultrastructure of Devonian spores: Samarisporites (Cristatisporites) orcadensis (Richardson) Richardson, 1965. REVIEW OF PALAEOBOTANY AND PALYNOLOGY, Vol. 116(1-2) (pp 87-107) RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Current research students

Alexander Ball (2018-)

Silurian-Devonian early land plant spores and megafossils from the Anglo-Welsh Basin. Funded by a NERC ACCE award that is a CASE Studentship with the Natural History Museum, London.


Martha Gibson (2016-)

Palynology of the Permian Zechstein deposits of the UK (in association with Sirius Minerals). Funded by a NERC ACCE award.


Past students

Dr Alexander Askew (Ph.D. 2018)

Palynology of the Middle Devonian of Spain. Funded by a NERC ACCE award.


Dr David Carpenter (Ph.D. 2017)

Charcoal, forests and Earth’s Palaeozoic geochemical oxygen-cycle. Funded by NERC.


Dr Stephanie Wood (Ph.D. 2016)

Jurassic-Cretaceous palynology of the Gulf of Mexico. Funded by a NERC Open CASE award with Shell. Currently working for the British Geological Survey as a Palynology Lab Manager.


Dr Sam Slater (Ph.D. 2015)

Spore assemblages from the Yorkshire Jurassic. Funded by a NERC CASE Award with Shell Oil. Currently working as a postdoc in Sweden.


Dr Simon Wallace (Ph.D. 2013)

Evo-Devo studies of spore wall development in the extant moss Physcomitrella. Funded by a NERC award. Currently working as a postdoc in the USA.


Dr Faisal Abuhmida (PhD 2013)

Ordovician-Silurian palynology of Libya. Funded by the Libyan Petroleum Institute.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for the Lybian Petroleum Institute.


Dr Janine Pendleton (PhD 2012)

Carboniferous plants and spores from the Bristol Coalfield. Funded by a NERC CASE Award with National Museum Wales, Cardiff.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for PetroStrat, UK.


Dr Brian Pedder (PhD 2012)

Cambrian acritarchs from North America. Funded by a NERC Open CASE Award with the Natural History Museum, London.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for Robertson, UK.


Dr Doreen Mkuu (MPhil 2012)

Tertiary palynology of Tanzania. Funded by the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation.


Dr Mutusam Al-Ghammari (Ph.D. 2010)

Ordovician-Silurian acritarchs, chitinozoans and spore assemblages from Oman. Funded by Petroleum Development Oman. Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for PDO in Oman.


Dr Khaled Gaddah (PhD 2009)

Cretaceous palynology of the Nubian Sandstone of Libya. Funded by the Libyan Education Ministry.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for Waha Oil, Lybia.


Dr Issam Al-Barram (PhD 2009)

Carboniferous-Permian spore assemlages from Oman. Funded by Petroleum Development Oman.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for PDO in Oman.


Dr Wesley Fraser (PhD 2008)

Development of a novel proxy for measuring past UV-B radiation.
Currently working as a Lecturer in Physical Geography at Oxford Brookes University.


Mr Abdullah Al-Ghazi (MPhil 2005)

Devonian spore assemblages of Saudi Arabia. Funded by Saudi Aramco.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist for Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia.


Dr Waleed Abusham (PhD 2001)

Carboniferous spore assemblages from Scotland. Self Funded.
Currently working as a Stratigrapher/Palynologist in Sudan.


Dr Craig Harvey (PhD 2001)

Devonian spore assemblages from Venezuela. Funded by a Hussain Farmy University of Sheffield Scholarship.
Currently working as a Principal Exploration Geologist for Qatar Shell Upstream International.

Teaching activities

I teach across all levels within APS.

I am APS Level 3 tutor. In 2008 I received the Departmental Teacher of Year award.

At Level 1 I am module coordinator for APS121 (Evolution) and APS122 (Biodiversity).

At Level 2 I am module coordinator for APS269 (Palaeobiology). This module aims to instil within biology undergraduates a basic understanding of palaeontological principles—why understanding past life enhances our understanding of the living world.

At Level 3 I am module coordinator for APS341 (Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems). This module explores my personal research specialism and provides an up to date and in depth exploration of how terrestrial ecosystems have evolved through time and the nature of the scientific enquiry that enables us to understand this.

My Level 3 Projects (APS345) generally involve a palaeobiological investigation of fossils (usually plant fossils) that are collected and prepared by the students. These studies may concern analysis of evolutionary trends, palaeoecological investigation or palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. My Level 3 Dissertations (APS331) cover any topical area of palaeobiology (human evolution, dinosaur palaeobiology, mass extinctions etc.).

Level 4 Projects (APS406) cover aspects of palaeobiology that are currently interesting me. They have included investigation of sexual dimorphism in stegosaur dinosaurs, reconstruction of Cretaceous palaeogeography, analysis of Silurian lake palaeoecology, assessing the impact of the end Devonian mass extinction on various organisms etc.

Professional activities

Editorial boards

  • Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology (2006-present)
  • Palaontologische Zeitscrift (2005-present)
  • Palynos (2004-2008)
  • Palaeontology (2000-2006 & 2012-2016)

Societal roles

  • Commission Internationale de Microflora du Paleozoic (Secretary-Treasurer of the CIMP/Saudi Aramco joint project)
  • International Federation of Palynological Societies (Past President 2016-present; President 2012-2016; Secretary-Treasurer 2008-2012; Newsletter Editor 2004-2008; Councillor 2000-2004)
  • Palaeontological Association (President 2018-present)

Research council activities

  • NERC Peer Review College (2007-2011)

Recent invited lectures

  • European Palaeobotany & Palynology Conference (Dublin, Ireland 2018)
  • XXV Congresso Brasileiro de Paleontologia (Ribeirao Preto, Brazil 2017)
  • Royal Society Discussion Meeting: Rhynie Chert (London, UK 2017)
  • International Palynological Congress/International Organization of Palaeobotany Conference (Salvador, Brazil 2016)
  • International Palaeontological Congress (Mendoza, Argentina 2014)