Mammal Community Structure Analysis

  • Kris Kovarovic
  • Denise F. Su
  • Kari Lintulaakso
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology book series (VERT)


Fundamentally rooted in Odum’s niche concept, mammal community studies are based on the understanding that each resident species reveals information about its environment through its adaptations to specific resources and landscape features. Ecologists view the community’s profile of strategies for exploiting particular spatial and dietary niches; a quantitative summary of these strategies when compared across locales from a variety of habitat types demonstrates striking similarities in the communities that live in similar habitats regardless of their location. Recognizing that communities can be compared across space, paleoecologists implemented community studies across time in an effort to reconstruct past environments. This synecological approach to paleoenvironmental reconstruction may be thought of as holistic, since it is not restricted to a single mammal family. However, thorough explorations of how fossil and extant communities differ have revealed significant dissimilarities brought about by the taphonomic history of paleontological assemblages. Techniques have been developed for addressing differences between the modern comparative community sample and the paleontological sample to which it is compared, but recent research conducted by both neo- and paleoecologists has suggested that there are unappreciated differences between modern habitats, as well.


Community analysis Ecological diversity Ecomorphology Niche Taxon-free Synecology 



KK and KL gratefully acknowledge Denise Su, Darin Croft and Scott Simpson for the invitation to participate in the “Latest Methods in Reconstructing Cenozoic Terrestrial Environments and Ecological Communities” symposium in Cleveland 2015. KK sincerely thanks the organizers for support and assistance with childcare during the symposium and for useful discussions throughout. We also thank Peter Andrews for his continued advice and insight.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kris Kovarovic
    • 1
  • Denise F. Su
    • 2
  • Kari Lintulaakso
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyDurham UniversityDurhamUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of Paleobotany and PaleoecologyCleveland Museum of Natural HistoryClevelandUnited States of America
  3. 3.Department of Geosciences and GeographyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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