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Paleoecology: Past, Present and Future

David J. Bottjer

ISBN: 978-1-118-45583-8 March 2016 Wiley-Blackwell 232 Pages


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.

Preface vii

1 Overview 1

2 Deep time and actualism in paleoecological reconstruction 10

3 Ecology, paleoecology, and evolutionary paleoecology 17

4 Taphonomy 33

5 Bioturbation and trace fossils 52

6 Microbial structures 64

7 Across the great divide: Precambrian to Phanerozoic paleoecology 76

8 Phanerozoic level-bottom marine environments 95

9 Reefs, shell beds, cold seeps, and hydrothermal vents 114

10 Pelagic ecosystems 128

11 Terrestrial ecosystems 139

12 Ecological change through time 153

13 Ecological consequences of mass extinctions 175

14 Conservation paleoecology 203

Index 217

Color plate pages fall between pp. 1 and 42

‘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)