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Palaeontology Department Seminar

 

Thursday 1st September Neil Chalmers Seminar Room, DC2, 1600

 

Sampling, modelling, and making sense of the fossil record of diversity

 

Dr. Andrew B. Smith, Department of Palaeontology, NHM


While we can sample the available rock record effectively for its fossil content, the record we are sampling is itself biased.  Understanding and quantifying this bias is key to developing better estimates of diversity over time, and various ways of estimating rock record bias have been proposed.  Recent criticisms of these approaches by Benton and co-workers are shown to be misplaced or unfounded.

 

To demonstrate by how much the fossil record is distorted by unavoidable sampling inequality, the diversity of planktonic microfossil clades are estimated from two independent records – that of land-based outcrops and deep-sea cores.  These differ markedly, with each tracking its respective record of rock accessibility over time. However, modelling and subsampling approaches to the two very different records converge on a single underlying pattern, showing that these are powerful approaches for recovering less biased estimates of how past diversity has changed over geological time.

 

Contact: Greg Edgecombe g.edgecombe@nhm.ac.uk

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