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 ... in a Journal

Author:

[Fortelius, Mikael|PublicAdministrativeSpace:Fortelius, Mikael] [Jernvall, Jukka|PublicAdministrativeSpace:Jernvall, Jukka]

Title:

Maintenance of Trophic Structure in Fossil Mammal Communities: Site Occupancy and Taxon Resilience

Journal:

The American Naturalist

Number:

5

Volume:

164

Year:

2004

Pages:

614-624

Keywords:

trophic structure, macroevolution, primary consumers, population size, ecomorphology, herbivory

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Abstract:

Commonness of organisms typically fluctuates through time, and understanding such fluctuations has long been an important part of ecological research. Studies at paleontological timescales provide a perspective on how changes in population size might affect community structure over millions of years. To overcome the obstacle that population size parameters such as abundance are difficult to detect in the fossil record, we here used fossil locality coverage to approximate changes in site occupancy in the Neogene of Europe over the course of 20 million years. Our aim was to examine whether the trophic structure of mammalian communities is maintained through time despite continuing environmental change. Ecomorphological grouping of fossils indicates that herbivore genera have low taxon resilience in that each genus has predominantly only one locality coverage peak before disappearance. Despite this continuous replacement of the most prevalent herbivore genera, the herbivore trophic group as a whole remains the largest and maintains a roughly constant share of locality coverage throughout the Neogene. The successive herbivore genera, however, show increasing adaptations to harshening environments, indicating shifting properties of niches while the overall trophic structure is conserved. Carnivores, dependent on primary productivity for food indirectly through their prey, show moderate lack of resilience. In contrast, in omnivores changes in locality coverage are close to random fluctuations.
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