Can One Type of Animal Represent Diversity for All Members of a Community? – #365papers – 2017 – 60

#365papers for March 1, 2017

Tyler and Kowalewski, 2017, Surrogate taxa and fossils as reliable proxies for spatial biodiversity patterns in marine benthic communities: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, v. 284, 20162839.

What’s it about?

When researchers try to understand species diversity in marine systems, they often are not able to actually count all the different species present. They pick an easy-to-count group (like molluscs), and use that as a representative of the whole community. But is this legit?

Furthermore, oftentimes fossil assemblages are used for estimating diversity. But this requires only looking at species that fossilize well. Does that matter?

Why does it matter?

Can molluscs, for example, represent a community with bryozoans, corals, brachiopods, sea stars, and sponges? Can fossils of hard-shelled organisms represent a community full of soft-bodied animals that seldom fossilize? This is important because time and money are limited, and researchers need to get the most “bang for their buck.”

Why did I read this?

This one popped up on my news feed. I work with fossil molluscs a lot, so I thought it’d be interesting to see what the authors do with them.

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