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

ological 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."


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

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