Brett, Carlton E. Department of Geological Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Paleoenvironmental Interpretations
- Taxonomic uniformitarianism
- Morphologic features
- Skeletal mineralogy and geochemistry
- Comparative taphonomy
- Functional morphology
- Fossil data
- Population studies
- Organism interactions
- Larval ecology and evolution
- Evolutionary Paleoecology
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Ecology of prehistoric times, extending from about 10,000 to about 3.5 × 109 years ago. Although the principles of paleoecology are the same as those underlying modern ecology, the two fields actually differ greatly. Paleoecology is a historical science that must rely on empirical data from fossils and their enclosing sedimentary rocks to make inferences about past conditions. Experimental approaches and direct measurement of environmental parameters, which are critical components of modern ecology, are generally impossible in paleoecology. Furthermore, distortion and loss of information during fossilization means that fossil assemblages and distributions are rarely congruent with living communities. Hence, the resolution of ancient ecosystems must remain relatively imprecise. The lack of precision is compensated for by the fact that paleoecology deals with processes occurring over vast spans of time that are unavailable to modern ecology. Long-term changes in communities (replacement) may be discerned and related to patterns of environmental change. More significantly, overall patterns of ecological change in the global biosphere may be documented; evolutionary paleoecology focuses on recognition and interpretation of long-term ecological trends that have been critical in shaping evolution.
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 46 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information