Abstract

Sampling biases are the greatest impediment to resolving the history of species richness of fossilizable marine invertebrates in the Phanerozoic. Actual patterns of species richness have remained uncertain because no method is available to compensate for variations in sampling intensity. Data are not obtainable which would permit application of techniques that allow direct compensation for sampling intensity, such as rarefaction, but actual patterns can be estimated with a sampling model designed to account for sampling bias. One can estimate the total species richness of a geologic period if one knows the relative sampling intensity devoted to that period, the original species-abundance distribution of all species that existed during the interval, and the number of species that existed during the Cenozoic. The model presented here is based on the assumption that the species-abundance distributions of fossilizable marine invertebrates were lognormal and that sampling was proportional to sediment area, volume, or paleontologist interest units. The model produces consistent results with different estimates of total Cenozoic species richness and sampling intensity and strongly suggests low diversity during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, followed by a dramatic early Cenozoic increase in standing species richness. These results are consistent with Valentine's (1970) Empirical model of species richness.

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