I am a professor of Earth Sciences at Southern Methodist University and I am interested in sedimentology, soils and paleosols (fossilized soils), stable isotope geochemistry, and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. I work across a broad swath of geologic time that covers the past 400 million years, and have conducted field work in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. My research is guided by an overarching principle that a developed understanding of past climate dynamics will inform our concepts and predictions about future climate change.
I have worked on this Project, both in the field and in the lab, since 2007. My work has focused on using stable carbon and oxygen isotopes from the teeth of fossil mammals to reconstruct their diets and, by analyzing these same isotopes from paleosol minerals, to reconstruct the types and ranges of vegetative cover across paleolandscapes. I also have initiated a study of stable isotopes from freshwater mollusks in order to reconstruct late Pleistocene climates around the western lowlands of Ethiopia. Collectively, this research will provide the Project with an opportunity to place the foraging behaviors of Middle Stone Age, early modern humans within a paleoenvironmental and climatic context.
I am interested in supervising students with an interest in reconstructing ancient climates and habitats so that we can better understand the interaction between Middle Stone Age humans and their environments. These people endured at a time when our species began its expansion out of Africa that, eventually, lead us to populate most of the rest of the world. Students who work with me will collect samples in the field and analyze their samples in my lab at SMU in Dallas.
2015. Tabor, N.J. and T.S. Myers. Paleosols as Indicators of Paleoenvironment and Paleoclimate. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 43: 13-39.
2014. Kappelman, J., D. Tewabe, L. Todd, M. Feseha, M. Kay, G. Kocurek, B. Nachman, N. Tabor, and M. Yadeta. Another Unique River: a consideration of some of the characteristics of the trunk tributaries of the Nile River in northwestern Ethiopia in relationship to their aquatic food resources. Journal of Human Evolution, 77:117-131.
2009. Sheldon, ND , NJ Tabor. Quantitative paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstruction using paleosols. Earth-Science Reviews 95 (1), 1-52
2007. Montanez, IP , NJ Tabor, D Niemeier, WA DiMichele, TD Frank, CR Fielding, JL Isbell, LP Birgenheier, and MC Rygel. CO2-forced climate and vegetation instability during Late Paleozoic deglaciation. Science 315 (5808), 87-91
2005. Tabor, N.J. and Yapp, C.J. Juxtaposed Permian and Pleistocene Isotopic archives: Surficial environments recorded in calcite and goethite from the Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma. In Mora, G. and Surge, D., eds. Isotopic and Elemental Tracers of Cenozoic Climate Change. Geological Society of America Special Publication No. 395, p. 55-70 [PDF]