Abstract

Farming is a behavior in which an organism promotes the growth and reproduction of other organisms in or on a substrate as a food source. A number of trace fossils have been suggested to record the occurrence of farming behavior. These include the deep-sea graphoglyptid trace fossils, proposed to be microbial farms on the seafloor, and terrestrial fossil social insect nests thought to represent fungicultural behavior. The presumed farming behavior of graphoglyptids is the basis of the ethological category agrichnia. Four criteria have been proposed as diagnostic of farming behavior, and these can be applied to both observed modern and proposed trace fossil examples of farming behavior. The evidence for farming behavior in the social insect trace record is strong but is much weaker in the case of graphoglyptids. The use of agrichnia as an ethological category should be limited to well-supported cases.

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