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Introduction to Paleoecological Reconstruction

  • Darin A. CroftEmail author
  • Denise F. Su
  • Scott W. Simpson
Chapter
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)

Abstract

Ancient terrestrial ecosystems cannot be observed directly, but a wide variety of approaches and techniques have been developed that provide indirect evidence of many aspects of ecosystem functioning. By integrating multiple lines of evidence about the climate, vegetational structure, and fauna of a given location at a particular time, a relatively complete paleoecological picture of a fossil locality can be generated. This volume reviews some of the most commonly used techniques for paleobiological and paleoecological analysis; in this chapter, we briefly introduce these approaches and the insights they can provide. They include techniques for: inferring attributes of particular mammal species and/or individuals (body mass, locomotor adaptations, diet, life history variables); interpreting ancient soils (paleosols), trace fossils (ichnofossils), organic biomolecules, and plant remains of various types (pollen, phytoliths, macrofossils); analyzing isotopic and geometric morphometric data to answer a range of ecological and environmental questions; and seeking patterns in data across broad taxonomic, geographic, and/or temporal scales (ecomorphology, ecometrics, and ecological diversity analysis).

Keywords

Ecosystems Ecometrics Paleobiology Paleoecology Paleoenvironment 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank R. Engelman and J. Green for reading and providing comments on this chapter.

References

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darin A. Croft
    • 1
    Email author
  • Denise F. Su
    • 2
  • Scott W. Simpson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Paleobotany and PaleoecologyCleveland Museum of Natural HistoryClevelandUSA

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