Evol Ecol Res 8: 181-194 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Species occupancy and its course in the past: macroecological patterns in extinct communities

Pasquale Raia,1* Carlo Meloro,2 Anna Loy1 and Carmela Barbera2

1Dipartimento STAT, Università degli Studi del Molise, Via Mazzini 10, 86170 Isernia, Italy and  2Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università Federico II di Napoli, L.go San Marcellino 10, 80130 Napoli, Italy

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: pasquale.raia@libero.it


Questions: What is the shape of occupancy trajectories in fossil organisms? And what is the effect of occupancy on species survival?

Data studied: Occupancy and its course through time for a species in extinct large mammal communities from Italy.

Search method: We tested if occupancy (the proportion of fossil sites representing a given paleocommunity where a species is present) patterns in extinct communities match a bimodal distribution as in living communities. Then we regressed occupancy on species duration to estimate its effect on long-term survival. We built a null model of random occupancy trajectories and compared it to real data.

Conclusions: The occupancy–frequency distribution in extinct communities is either bimodal or right skewed. We found a positive relationship between high occupancy and species survival. We found peaked occupancy trajectories to be the norm for hoofed mammals at least.

Keywords: Galerian, large mammals, macroecology, occupancy, Villafranchian.

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