Are taxonomic diversity curves a scientific dead end?

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    Over the last decade more and more published papers have presented supposedly interesting diversity curves. Almost all of this literature has used either (a) raw taxon counts or (b) sampling standardised counts produced by outdated methods such as rarefaction, as opposed to shareholder quorum subsampling (SQS). Few authors have asked whether they even have enough data to perform standardisation, a question easily answered by examining statistical coverage of frequency distributions (Good's u, the measure SQS seeks to hold constant). Data from the Paleobiology Database are sufficient to compute stage-level curves for many major inver tebrate groups and for Cenozoic mammals from North America and Europe, as well as epoch-level curves for insects. But sample sizes will most likely always be inadequate for (say) mammals from other continents and for sporadically preserved groups such as vascular plants, sponges, decapods, asterozoans, bony fishes, amphibians, marine reptiles, crocodylians, birds, and non-avian dinosaurs. Computing proper origination and extinction rates with low binomial error is even more challenging. Thus, only so much can be said about taxonomic diversity, and in most cases everything important already has been said. There has been a concurrent explosion of literature on the tangential question of whether and why raw, unstandardised diversity curves correlate with rock amount proxies. Raw taxon counts are intrinsically uninteresting, and if standardisation is unfeasible curves simply shouldn't be presented. Rock amount by itself is also of no intrinsic geological or biological interest. It may be time for us all to step back from publishing diversity curves.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventInternational Geological Congress (34th : 2012) - Brisbane, Australia
    Duration: 5 Aug 201210 Aug 2012


    ConferenceInternational Geological Congress (34th : 2012)


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