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PeerJ. 2017 Jun 30;5:e3511. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3511. eCollection 2017.

The identification of Oligo-Miocene mammalian palaeocommunities from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, Australia and an appraisal of palaeoecological techniques.

Author information

1
Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives (PANGEA) Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Abstract

Fourteen of the best sampled Oligo-Miocene local faunas from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, north-western Queensland, Australia are analysed using classification and ordination techniques to identify potential mammalian palaeocommunities and palaeocommunity types. Abundance data for these faunas are used, for the first time, in conjunction with presence/absence data. An early Miocene Faunal Zone B and two middle Miocene Faunal Zone C palaeocommunities are recognised, as well as one palaeocommunity type. Change in palaeocommunity structure, between the early Miocene and middle Miocene, may be the result of significant climate change during the Miocene Carbon Isotope Excursion. The complexes of local faunas identified will allow researchers to use novel palaeocommunities in future analyses of Riversleigh's fossil faunas. The utility of some palaeoecological multivariate indices and techniques is examined. The Dice index is found to outperform other binary similarity/distance coefficients, while the UPGMA algorithm is more useful than neighbour joining. Evidence is equivocal for the usefulness of presence/absence data compared to abundance.

KEYWORDS:

Classification; Local faunas; Mammal; Miocene; Multivariate; Oligocene; Ordination; Palaeocommunity; Palaeoecology; Riversleigh

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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