Patterns of diversification and extinction in the fossil record of marine invertebrates inferred from the Paleobiology Database.
Alroy, John*,1, 1 University of California, Santa Barbara, California
ABSTRACT- The Paleobiology Database is a self-organized, distributed research organization with open membership that brings together more than 110 Ph.D.s from 75 institutions in 13 countries. Customized data entry, query, analysis, and download scripts are all web-based. There are tools for dynamically generating distribution maps, taxonomic classifications, abundance distribution statistics, and diversity curves. Most major paleontological data types are included: published references, fossil collection descriptions, taxonomic occurrences, reidentifications, classifications, synonymies, ecological categories, time scales, and digital images. The database currently includes nearly a half million occurrences of more than 23,000 genera and 48,000 species. Research is conducted not just by individuals, but by collaborative working groups. The marine invertebrate group is revising the global Phanerozoic diversity curve by using sampling standardization of occurrence-based data, and has found that diversity may have been roughly constant over the past 500 million years. The ecological composition of the marine biota has changed dramatically, but increases in the proportions of (say) carnivores and infaunal organisms are dynamically independent. The record is spatially biased: fossil collections are overwhelmingly concentrated in rich northern countries. The vertebrate group is quantifying overall sampling patterns, and has found that the number of collections increases almost exponentially through geologic time. Vertebrate collections also are overwhelmingly concentrated in the middle northern latitudes. The paleobotany group has discovered that alpha diversity has been nearly constant since early in the evolutionary history of plants. The taphonomy group has shown that the robustness of benthic invertebrate shells is not related to the frequency with which genera occur in the fossil record. Newly formed groups focus on microfossils and taxonomy.
Key words: biodiversity, ecoinformatics, macroevolution, paleobiology
All materials copyright The Ecological Society of America (ESA), and may not be used without written permission.