Habitat preferences in the fossil record


We tested hypotheses of drivers of mammalian evolution through an examination of apparent competitive replacements of burrowing rodents at a regional scale in the middle to late Miocene fossil record of the northern Great Basin. At that time, mylagaulids became very abundant within the burrowing herbivore niche, including all burrowing rodents. This peculiar group of subterranean small mammals is most abundant in the Hemingfordian through Clarendonian NALMAs (17.5 to 9 Ma) and declines in the Hemphilian (9 to 5 Ma), giving way to the now very abundant family Geomyidae. We tested the hypothesis that this turnover of the most abundant group within the guild was associated with changes in habitat.

The results of this research were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Pittsburgh (2010) by Dr. Samantha Hopkins and are part of my M.S. thesis at the University of Oregon. The article has been published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

Calede, J.J., S.S.B., Hopkins, E.B., Davis. 2011. Turnover in burrowing rodents: the role of competition and habitat change. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 311:242-255.
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Collaborators: Samantha Hopkins, Edward Davis