Phanerozoic predation intensity and diversity
Huntley, John Warren Department of Geological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri.
- Previous studies of predation in the fossil record
- Phanerozoic histories
- Additional Readings
The idea that species interactions, such as predation, parasitism, or competition, helped shape the history of biodiversity is not a new one. Indeed, Charles Darwin compared the biotic world to a surface of tightly packed wedges, and the only way for a new species—in his metaphor, a wedge—to gain a foothold was to drive out another wedge. By observing species interactions in the modern living world, it seems apparent that organisms' struggles for food, habitat, and reproduction were the fundamental processes responsible for the biodiversity that we see today. Predation, the killing and consumption of an organism (prey) by another organism (predator), has been shown to be particularly important in determining species diversity in modern environments. The classic experiments of ecologist Robert Paine in intertidal environments in the Pacific Northwest illustrated the role of predators in increasing the number of species in a local environment. Paine removed the top invertebrate predator, the sea star Pisaster, from a shoreline environment, and the number of species in the experimental plot dropped from 15 to 8. The explanation is that by feeding—also termed “cropping”—predators prevent other species from monopolizing the environment and outcompeting their competitors. Steven M. Stanley extended the cropping hypothesis to explain the Cambrian explosion, a geologically sudden macroevolutionary event during which nearly all animal phyla appeared in the fossil record.
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 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 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