These results, they argue, suggest that many fluctuations in diversity seen in fossil analyses actually arise from the species-area effect and are not actually the result of true changes in the distribution of species. Given the lack of uniform geographic sampling in paleontological data, the impact of this effect may be significant - and likely applies to other taxa as well. Once the effect is factored in, one might expect significant adjustments in accepted patterns of global and regional paleodiversity. And because an important metric for understanding current extinctions relies on descriptions of past extinction events, controlling for a paleodiversity¡Varea effect may provide a better frame of reference for understanding the current biodiversity crisis. Thanks to the innovative text-mining tools and approach presented here, future studies can more easily correct for area effects and explore these issues. And given the parallels between species-area relationships in paleontology and ecology, collaborations across disciplines may offer valuable insights into ecological dynamics through time.
Citation: Barnosky AD, Carrasco MA, Davis EB (2005) The impact of the species-area relationship on estimates of paleodiversity. PLoS Biol 3(8): e266.