Variable preservation potential and richness in the fossil record of vertebrates

Fiona M. Walker, Alexander M. Dunhill, Michael J. Benton, Philip Mannion
2019 Palaeontology  
General rights This document is made available in accordance with publisher policies. Please cite only the published version using the reference above. Full terms of use are available: Abstract: Variation in preservation and sampling probability clouds our estimates of past biodiversity. The most extreme examples are Lagerst€ atten faunas and floras. Although such deposits provide a wealth of information and represent true richness better than other deposits, they can create misleading
more » ... peaks because of their species richness. Here, we investigate how Lagerst€ atten formations add to time series of vertebrate richness in the UK, Germany and China. The first two nations are associated with wellstudied fossil records and the last is a country where palaeontology has a much shorter history; all three nations include noted Lagerst€ atten in their fossil records. Lagerst€ atten provide a larger proportion of China's sampled richness than in Germany or the UK, despite comprising a smaller proportion of its fossiliferous deposits. The proportions of taxa that are unique to Lagerst€ atten vary through time and between countries. Further, in all regions, we find little overlap between the taxa occurring in Lagerst€ atten and in 'ordinary' formations within the same time bin, indicating that Lagerst€ atten preserve unusual faunas. As expected, fragile taxa make up a greater proportion of richness in Lagerst€ atten than the remainder of the fossil record. Surprisingly, we find that Lagerst€ atten account for a minority of peaks in the palaeodiversity curves of all vertebrates (18% in the UK; 36% in Germany and China), and Lagerst€ atten count is generally not a good overall predictor of the palaeodiversity signal. Vastly different sampling probabilities through taxa, locations and time require serious consideration when analysing palaeodiversity curves.
doi:10.1111/pala.12458 fatcat:iu2bhpwzhndmfgfve66skpe44e