GEOL 331 Principles of Paleontology

Fall Semester 2008
Paleoenvironmental Analysis

Autecology: behavoir of individual organisms with their environment
Synecology: ecology of communities of organisms with their environment, including each other

Can attempt to reconstruct "community" structure (note: "communities" seem to epiphenomena rather than entities in the geologic time scale)

Some analogous communities have formed multiple times in Earth history, with similar community structure but different taxonomic composition: reefs, for example.

Taxonomic uniformitarianism: principle behind modern analog approaches to paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Examples:

But caution about using taxonomic uniformitarianism! Some taxa may have had different enivronmental habitats in the past. For example, modern onychophorans are terrestrial, while the best known fossil forms (and related lobopods) were marine!

Some other parameters of the enivornment might be determined by physical or chemical properties of the fossils:

Some parameters of interest: temperature, salinity, oxygenation

May also be interested in biotic aspects of paleoenvironment:

To Syllabus.

Last modified: 22 August 2008