Navigation Links
Clam fossils divulge secrets of ecologic stability
Date:5/15/2013

ITHACA, N.Y. - Clam fossils from the middle Devonian era some 380 million years ago now yield a better paleontological picture of the capacity of ecosystems to remain stable in the face of environmental change, according to research published today (May 15) in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Trained to examine species abundance the head counts of specimens paleontologists test the stability of Earth's past ecosystems. The research shows that factors such as predation and organism body size from epochs-gone-by can now be considered in such detective work.

Back 380 million years ago, New York was under the Devonian sea. Today, the fossils found in the rocks of this region have become well known for documenting long-term stability in species composition that is, the same species have been found to persist with little change over a 5 million year period. But research has found that species abundance in this ancient ecosystem went up and down, generating debate among paleontologists whether the fauna, as a whole, was also stable in terms of its ecology.

A team of Cornell, Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) an affiliate of Cornell University and University of Cincinnati researchers revisited this debate by examining the ecological stability of the Devonian clam fauna.

"To understand how these species fared in the Devonian, you have to look at how they interacted with other species. There is more to ecology than just the abundance and distribution of species," said Gregory Dietl, Cornell adjunct professor, earth and atmospheric sciences, and a paleontologist at PRI.

The research, "Abundance Is Not Enough: The Need for Multiple Lines of Evidence in Testing for Ecological Stability in the Fossil Record," was written by Judith Nagel-Myers, paleontologist, PRI; John Handley, PRI; Carlton Brett, University of Cincinnati professor of geology; and Dietl.

The scientists took a new approach to testing ecological stability: In addition to counting numbers of clams, they examined repair scars on fossil clams that were left by the unsuccessful attacks from shell-crushing predators, and the body size of the clam assemblage as it yields biological information on the structure of food webs.

"Surprisingly, predation pressure and the body size structure of the clams remained stable, even as abundance varied," said Nagel-Myers. Possible mechanisms that explain the clam assemblage's stability are related to the dynamics of food webs the same mechanisms operating in food webs today. In one mechanism, predators switched between feeding on different clam species as their abundance varied.

The ancient Devonian ecosystem was more complex than previously thought, as it cautions scientists against basing conclusions on a single factor. Said Dietl: "Our results thus raise serious doubt as to whether ecological stability can be tested meaningfully, solely based upon the abundance of taxa, which has been the standard metric used to test for ecological stability in paleoecology."


'/>"/>

Contact: Syl Kacapyr
vpk6@cornell.edu
607-255-7701
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Feces fossils yield new insights into ancient diets and thrifty genes
2. Ancient fossils reveal how the mollusc got its teeth
3. Recent studies bring fossils and genes together to piece together evolutionary history
4. EARTH: Famous fossils and spectacular scenery at British Columbias Burgess Shale
5. Artificial womb unlocks secrets of early embryo development
6. Ancient Egyptian cotton unveils secrets of domesticated crop evolution
7. Cellular secrets of plant fatty acid production understood
8. Track Atlantic bluefin tuna to learn migration, habitat secrets
9. Rensselaer scientists unlock some key secrets of photosynthesis
10. Large, medically important class of proteins starts to yield its secrets
11. Hidden secrets in the worlds most northerly rainforests
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/13/2017)... 2017  RSA Conference -- RSA, a Dell Technologies ... to enhance fraud detection and investigation across digital ... Fraud & Risk Intelligence Suite. The new platform ... insights from internal and external sources as well ... customers from targeted cybercrime attacks. "Fraudsters ...
(Date:2/9/2017)... Feb. 9, 2017 The biomass boiler market ... the biomass boiler market globally in terms of revenue ... boilers. The market for biomass boilers has been segmented ... application, and country/region. The market based on feedstock type, ... residues, biogas & energy crops, urban residues, and others. ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... , Feb. 7, 2017 Report Highlights ... The global ... reach $11.4 billion by 2021, growing at a compound annual ... - An overview of the global markets for synthetic biology. ... estimates for 2016, and projections of compound annual growth rates ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/28/2017)... ... February 28, 2017 , ... ... of antibody therapeutics from millions-diverse immune repertoires, today announced a strategic partnership with ... strains genetically engineered to express human antibodies. The partnership will use GigaGen technology ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... , Feb. 28, 2017  ITL Limited ... company, supplier and strategic partner that provides innovative ... individual health management, formally announces its rebrand to ... name change is part of the Company,s unified ... launch of an integrated corporate website, ITLHealthGroup.com ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... and NEW YORK , February ... License Application accepted by the FDA for avelumab  ... disease has metastasized   ... Germany , in the US and ... US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted for Priority ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... -- A Europe-wide survey of institutes conducted by the ... their research treat them with due care. The survey polled a ... the results indicates that there is a strong commitment among animal ... the principles of the 3Rs (Refine, Reduce, Replace)  ... What are the 3Rs? ...
Breaking Biology Technology: