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The Application of Geographic Information Systems to Paleobiogeography: Implications for the Study of Invasions and Mass Extinctions

  • Alycia L. Stigall Rode (a1)

Abstract

Mapping geographic ranges of species and higher taxa using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) produces quantitative data on spatial and temporal changes in geographic ranges. The primary advantage of GIS analysis is that it has the capacity to utilize large amounts of occurrence data of species to produce quantitatively constrained geographic range reconstructions that are amenable to statistical analysis. The basic steps in GIS range reconstruction are database assembly (including taxonomic, geographic, and stratigraphic information for each specimen), mapping of localities of species on modern continental configuration, rotation of occurrence data of species onto paleocontinental reconstructions, and reconstructions of geographic ranges. GIS analysis of ranges of species has been used to assess faunal dynamics of the Late Devonian Biodiversity Crisis, and three case studies are presented here. In these case studies, GIS-derived ranges of species are used to assess the relationship of biogeography with sea level, speciation and extinction rates, mass extinction survival, speciation mode, and invasive history of taxa. These case studies represent a subset of the potential for GIS analyses to examine paleontological patterns and contribute to improving understanding of the interaction between paleobiogeography, paleoecology, and evolution in the fossil record.

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The Application of Geographic Information Systems to Paleobiogeography: Implications for the Study of Invasions and Mass Extinctions

  • Alycia L. Stigall Rode (a1)

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