Documenting faunal turnover of Caribbean coral reefs; the Neogene marine biota of tropical America (NMITA) database; Geological Society of America, 2000 annual meeting

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Peer Reviewed


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Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America

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Over the past decade, new collections and refined taxonomic practices have fundamentally altered interpretations of the Cenozoic evolution of Caribbean reef corals. Two or more extinction episodes involving >60% of species (e.g., Oligo-Miocene, Plio-Pleistocene) have been recognized in what was previously believed to have been a gradually evolving ecosystem since middle Eocene time. Despite the importance of the episodes in understanding the development of modern reef communities, their recognition requires high-quality data, because highs of origination and extinction overlap. Indeed, in both cases, origination preceded extinction by >2 million years, and local assemblages consisted of a variable mix of extinct and newly originated species. Due to the complexity, adequate samples, accurate geologic age dates, and carefully and consistently identified species are critical to deciphering and interpreting evolutionary patterns.The data for the analyses consist of occurrences of taxa within stratigraphic horizons in scattered Caribbean reef sequences, and are available in the Neogene Marine Biota of Tropical America ("NMITA") database at http://nmita. geology.uiowa.edu. NMITA contains images and synoptic information on taxa collected by several large team sampling projects assessing the biodiversity of >10 taxonomic groups over the past 25 million years. It emphasizes data that are useful in recognizing and identifying taxa, which are displayed on individual web pages for each species. They include: (1) taxonomic authorship, synonyms, type specimens, and diagnostic morphologic characters; (2) images of representative specimens and associated museum catalog and measurement data; (3) distribution information including geologic ages, stratigraphic units, and spatial locations; and (4) higher level classification (genera and families) and bibliographic information. NMITA contains illustrated glossaries of morphologic terms, character matrices, identification tools, and clickable geographic maps and stratigraphic columns, which provide faunal lists for different locations. The database is modified as new collections are identified, and the taxa and stratigraphy are revised, thereby allowing rigorous evaluation of analytical patterns.


The actual abstract has a typo in J. Dawson's name. We have verified through the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences that he is John P. Dawson.

Published Article/Book Citation

Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America, 32:7 (2000) pp.131

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