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Preferential preservation of low-elevation biotas in the nonmarine fossil record

Steven M. Holland, Katharine M. Loughney and Marjean Cone
Preferential preservation of low-elevation biotas in the nonmarine fossil record
Geology (Boulder) (December 2022) 51 (1): 111-114


Modern coastal sedimentary basins typically lie at low elevations (<600 m), whereas inland basins commonly occupy elevations as high as 4000-5000 m. Individual basins of all types typically preserve a narrower span of elevations, generally <1000 m, and typically near 200-300 m in coastal basins. As a result, the nonmarine fossil record is expected to preserve mainly low-elevation habitats and a relatively narrow range of elevations. Because many of the basins that preserve high elevations are likely to undergo subsequent destruction via erosion or continental collision, the dominance of low-elevation habitats is likely to become stronger into deep time. This selective preservation of nonmarine communities from sedimentary basins, and specifically from low elevations, suggests that much or even most of ancient nonmarine biodiversity is not preserved. Given the occurrence of many modern biodiversity hotspots in regions of high elevation, long ghost lineages are likely common in the nonmarine fossil record, and divergence times estimated from the nonmarine fossil record may be systematically far too short. The spans of elevations that are preserved in sedimentary basins suggest that the fossil record may preserve gradients in community composition that are correlated with elevation, yet they have been largely undetected.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 51
Serial Issue: 1
Title: Preferential preservation of low-elevation biotas in the nonmarine fossil record
Affiliation: University of Georgia, Department of Geology, Athens, GA, United States
Pages: 111-114
Published: 20221202
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 31
Accession Number: 2023-004496
Categories: General paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2023, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 202304
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