Introduction to paleoecological reconstruction

Darin A. Croft, Denise F. Su, Scott W. Simpson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


Ancient terrestrial ecosystems cannot be observed directly, but a wide variety of approaches and techniques have been developed that provide indirect evidence of many aspects of ecosystem functioning. By integrating multiple lines of evidence about the climate, vegetational structure, and fauna of a given location at a particular time, a relatively complete paleoecological picture of a fossil locality can be generated. This volume reviews some of the most commonly used techniques for paleobiological and paleoecological analysis; in this chapter, we briefly introduce these approaches and the insights they can provide. They include techniques for: inferring attributes of particular mammal species and/or individuals (body mass, locomotor adaptations, diet, life history variables); interpreting ancient soils (paleosols), trace fossils (ichnofossils), organic biomolecules, and plant remains of various types (pollen, phytoliths, macrofossils); analyzing isotopic and geometric morphometric data to answer a range of ecological and environmental questions; and seeking patterns in data across broad taxonomic, geographic, and/or temporal scales (ecomorphology, ecometrics, and ecological diversity analysisCommunity structure analysis).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
ISSN (Print)1877-9077


  • Ecometrics
  • Ecosystems
  • Paleobiology
  • Paleoecology
  • Paleoenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Palaeontology


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