Effects of sampling standardization on estimates of Phanerozoic marine diversification

J. Alroy*, C. R. Marshall, R. K. Bambach, K. Bezusko, M. Foote, F. T. Fürsich, T. A. Hansen, S. M. Holland, L. C. Ivany, D. Jablonski, D. K. Jacobs, D. C. Jones, M. A. Kosnik, S. Lidgard, S. Low, A. I. Miller, P. M. Novack-Gottshall, T. D. Olszewski, M. E. Patzkowsky, D. M. RaupK. Roy, J. J. Sepkoski, M. G. Sommers, P. J. Wagner, A. Webber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

404 Citations (Scopus)


Global diversity curves reflect more than just the number of taxa that have existed through time: they also mirror variation in the nature of the fossil record and the way the record is reported. These sampling effects are best quantified by assembling and analyzing large numbers of locality-specific biotic inventories. Here, we introduce a new database of this kind for the Phanerozoic fossil record of marine invertebrates. We apply four substantially distinct analytical methods that estimate taxonomic diversity by quantifying and correcting for variation through time in the number and nature of inventories. Variation introduced by the use of two dramatically different counting protocols also is explored. We present sampling-standardized diversity estimates for two long intervals that sum to 300 Myr (Middle Ordovician-Carboniferous; Late Jurassic-Paleogene). Our new curves differ considerably from traditional, synoptic curves. For example, some of them imply unexpectedly low late Cretaceous and early Tertiary diversity levels. However, such factors as the current emphasis in the data base on North America and Europe still obscure our view of the global history of marine biodiversity. These limitations will be addressed as the database and methods are refined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6261-6266
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2001
Externally publishedYes


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