Last year, during a discussion with several paleontologists, I mentioned a statement by Hubbell (2001), the gist of which was that although the planet is facing a shocking biodiversity crisis, we are still struggling to discern the most basic facts about biodiversity, specifically, which factors control biodiversity. At this point, someone asked, “But understanding which factors control biodiversity—isn't that an ecological question?” To which my reply is, “Yes, it is. Why isn't it also a paleoecological question? Indeed, why isn't it the paleoecological question?”

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Wilson (2003) has estimated that within forty years, the extinction rate will be 100 species...

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