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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: December 2013

5 - Palaeobiology, palaeoecology (or palaeoenvironmental interpretation)


This chapter deals with palaeobiology, palaeoecology (or palaeoenvironmental interpretation). It contains sections on Foraminifera in palaeoenvironmental interpretation; on palaeobathymetry; on sedimentary environments; on palaeo(bio)geography; on palaeoceanography; on biogeochemical proxies in palaeoenvironmental interpretation; on palaeoclimatology; and on palaeoenvironmental interpretation and associated visualisation technologies. The section on palaeobathymetry includes sub-sections on marginal marine or paralic environments; on shallow marine or neritic environments; and on deep marine, or bathyal and abyssal, environments. The section on sedimentary environments includes sub-sections on marginal marine, peri-deltaic; shallow marine, peri-reefal; and deep marine, submarine fan sub-environments. The section on palaeoceanography includes a sub-section on the organic carbon cycle and oxygenation.

Palaeoenvironmental interpretation

Palaeoecology or palaeoenvironmental interpretation involves the use of fossils in the ordering of the rock record in space.

Facies fossils

Palaeoenvironmentally useful so-called facies fossils share two common characteristics:

firstly, restricted ecological distributions (for example, to a particular bathymetric zone or biogeographic province);

and secondly, low evolutionary turnover rates, and hence long stratigraphic ranges.

The most useful, for practical purposes, are also abundant, well preserved, and easy to identify.

Many of them are benthic.

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