Assessing the Fossil Record of Plant-Insect Associations: Ichnodata Versus Body-Fossil Data
Published:January 01, 2007
Conrad C. Labandeira, 2007. "Assessing the Fossil Record of Plant-Insect Associations: Ichnodata Versus Body-Fossil Data", Sediment–Organism Interactions: A Multifaceted Ichnology, Richard G. Bromley, Luis A. Buatois, Gabriela Mángano, Jorge F. Genise, Ricardo N. Melchor
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Two basic approaches are used to assess the paleobiology of continental associations between insect herbivores and their host plants. First is a biological approach that emphasizes phylogeny of extant representatives of lineages with fossil records. Second is a paleobiological approach that provides intrinsic evaluation of fossil associational evidence, of which there are several types of studies. One type of study is intensive examination of single insect-herbivore associations that involve a continuum from generalists to specialists requiring detailed autecological deductions about life habits. Another tack is assessment of herbivore damage patterns from selected plant hosts through slices of time for understanding the ecological evolution of a component community. Alternatively, comprehensive analyses can be made of the feeding patterns within a single or a series of regional floras.
The record of plant-insect associations has five advantages. Associational data (1) are typically present in deposits that lack insect body fossils; (2) often surpass in abundance and usefulness insect body fossils in the same deposit; (3) frequently antedate their respective insect body fossils; (4) provide invaluable behavioral data that are unavailable from body fossils; and (5) supply crucial data for testing hypotheses in paleobiology and evolutionary biology that otherwise are unachievable. Disadvantages involve difficulties in circumscribing insect culprits, absence of extant ecological data to which fossil data can be compared, and lack of attention by paleobotanists and botanists in collecting damaged specimens. An associational view of fossil land plants and insects provides a dynamic, process-oriented view of ecosystem evolution that is needed in paleobiology.
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Sediment–Organism Interactions: A Multifaceted Ichnology
The field of Ichnology bridges the gap between the areas of paleontology and sedimentology, but has connections to many subdisciplines within these areas. Biogenic structures record the behavior of their tracemakers and provide valuable information in paleoecologic and paleoenvironmental analysis. As in situ ethologic structures, trace fossils or ichnofossils yield valuable insights into the paleoecology of ancient benthic communities and the environmental dynamics of depositional systems. Ichnology is truly a multifaceted field, and a broad selection of its facets is represented in the 28 papers of this volume. The papers are the product of Ichnia 2004, the First International Congress on Ichnology, convened by Jorge F. Genise and held from 19 to 23 April 2004 at the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio in Trelew, Patagonia, Argentina. Seven papers connected with the congress, containing ichnotaxonomy, were published separately, in Ichnos, volume 13, issue 4. Several symposium volumes, books, and short-course notes have been published in recent years and ichnology can be considered a particularly active research area in steady growth. The 28 papers herein are arranged in five groups that reveal the broad scope of ichnology.