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Paleoecology: Past, Present and Future

ISBN: 978-1-118-45586-9
232 pages
April 2016, Wiley-Blackwell
Paleoecology: Past, Present and Future (111845586X) cover image


Paleoecology is a discipline that uses evidence from fossils to provide an understanding of ancient environments and the ecological history of life through geological time. This text covers the fundamental approaches that have provided the foundation for present paleoecological understanding, and outlines new research areas in paleoecology for managing future environmental and ecological change. Topics include the use of actualism in paleoecology, development of paleoecological models for paleoenvironmental reconstruction, taphonomy and exceptional fossil preservation, evolutionary paleoecology and ecological change through time, and conservation paleoecology. Data from studies of invertebrates, vertebrates, plants and microfossils, with added emphasis on bioturbation and microbial sedimentary structures, are discussed. Examples from marine and terrestrial environments are covered, with a particular focus on periods of great ecological change, such as the Precambrian-Cambrian transition and intervals of mass extinction. 

Readership: This book is designed for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students in the earth and biological sciences, as well as researchers and applied scientists in a range of related disciplines.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1 Overview

Chapter 2 Deep Time and Actualism in Paleoecological Reconstruction

Chapter 3 Ecology, Paleoecology and Evolutionary Paleoecology

Chapter 4 Taphonomy

Chapter 5 Bioturbation and Trace Fossils

Chapter 6 Microbial Structures

Chapter 7 Across the Great Divide: Precambrian to Phanerozoic Paleoecology

Chapter 8 Phanerozoic Level Bottom Marine Environments

Chapter 9 Reefs, Shell Beds, Cold Seeps and Hydrothermal Vents

Chapter 10 Pelagic Ecosystems

Chapter 11Terrestrial Ecosystems

Chapter 12 Ecological Change Through Time

Chapter 13 Ecological Consequences of Mass Extinctions

Chapter 14 Conservation Paleoecology


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Author Information

David J. Bottjer is Professor of Earth Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California.  He is a Fellow of The Paleontological Society, the Geological Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is an Editor-in-Chief for the journal, Palaeogeogaphy, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.  In 2014 he was awarded the Raymond C. Moore Medal for excellence in paleontology by the SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology.
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‘This work is intended as a gateway into an understanding of paleoecology, particularly as a primer for advanced undergraduate or graduate students. It provides both a critical jumping off point for a guided exploration of the technical literature and enough structure to design a class or seminar around, which is one of its greatest strengths. The volume should be a valued reference for the professional as well, particularly its extensive references and numerous figures. A book such as this is sorely needed in the field today, and shines in its ability to connect patterns found in ancient organisms to the present and future health of the biosphere.’ The Quarterly Review of Biology, 92:4 (2017)

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