Quantifying the deep-sea rock and fossil record bias using coccolithophores

Graeme T. Lloyd, Andrew B. Smith, Jeremy R. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


While many studies show a correlation between observed taxonomic richness and various measures of geological sampling, all have been based on the same record of terrestrial and marine sediments collected from the land. Here we present the first analyses of how rock and fossil records vary in the deep-sea. We have developed a novel database of species occurrences of coccolithophores sampled during major drilling programs of the North Atlantic, including the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Our sampling proxy, the number of deep-sea sites sampled - perhaps the most direct measure of sampling used so far - shows an exponential rise towards the Recent. Over the same period species-richness has grown in an approximately linear fashion, but genus-level richness shows a sharp initial increase followed by a much slower decline. However, correlations between both richness measures and sampling are extremely strong and a model assuming true diversity to be constant accurately predicts much of observed richness. We conclude that the deep-sea fossil record, like its land-based counterpart, bears a rock record bias.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-177
Number of pages11
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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