Hendy, A.J.W., Kamp, P.J.J. & Vonk, A.J. (2009). Late Miocene turnover of molluscan faunas, New Zealand: Taxonomic and ecological reassessment of diversity changes at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 280(3-4), 275-290.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/3838
Previous estimates of molluscan biodiversity during the Neogene in New Zealand have revealed a pattern of significant diversity decline during the latest Miocene. This study uses an occurrence-based dataset (derived from published literature) to examine this pattern in further detail with both traditional synoptic measures and subsequent sampling standardization. Synoptic analyses of regional-scale data reveal diversity trajectories similar to those previously established, and rarefaction techniques demonstrate that the inferred pattern of Late Miocene diversity decline and Early Pliocene rebound is only somewhat biased by variations in sampling intensity. The pattern is also affected by temporal variations in the preservation of shelf paleoenvironments, with representation of highly diverse shallow-water facies varying considerably between biostratigraphic stages. The sampling and corresponding synoptic genus richness of biogeographic areas within the New Zealand region is also uneven. Within a single sedimentary basin sampled at high temporal resolution (Wanganui Basin), new data suggest that Late Miocene faunas were as diverse as those of the Early Pliocene, contrasting with the pattern of diversity decrease and subsequent increase observed at the regional spatial scale in prior studies. However, an ecological analysis of the new data demonstrates that turnover and restructuring of benthic communities did take place at the end of the Late Miocene. These findings suggest that spatial scale and temporal resolution are important considerations in determining the magnitude of diversity and ecological change observed in paleontologic studies. Contemporaneous biodiversity may not be similarly expressed at varying spatial or temporal scales in the fossil record. Rather, regional patterns of diversity change are governed by a complex interplay of not only large-scale environmental factors (e.g. temperature control), but also independent basin-scale processes (e.g. basin subsidence) and local sampling intensity.