Abstract

Minimum Sample Richness (MSR) is defined as the smallest number of taxa that must be recorded in a sample to achieve a given level of inter-assemblage classification accuracy. MSR is calculated from known or estimated richness and taxonomic similarity. Here we test MSR for strengths and weaknesses by using 167 published mammalian local faunas from the Paleogene and early Neogene of the Quercy and Limagne area (Massif Central, southwestern France), and then apply MSR to 84 Oligo-Miocene faunas from Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia. In many cases, MSR is able to detect the assemblages in the data set that are potentially too incomplete to be used in a similarity-based comparative taxonomic analysis. The results show that the use of MSR significantly improves the quality of the clustering of fossil assemblages. We conclude that this method can screen sample assemblages that are not representative of their underlying original living communities. Ultimately, it can be used to identify which assemblages require further sampling before being included in a comparative analysis.

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