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Understanding the processes leading to fossilization

Modern death assemblages provide insights about the early stages of fossilization and useful ecological information about the species inhabiting the ecosystem. The results of taphonomic monitoring of modern vertebrate carcasses and bones from Doñana National Park, a Mediterranean coastal ecosystem in Andalusia, Spain, are presented. Ten different habitats were surveyed. Half of them occur in active depositional environments (marshland, lake margin, river margin, beach and dunes). Most of the skeletal remains belong to land mammals larger than 5 kg in body weight (mainly wild and feral ungulates). Overall, the Doñana bone assemblage shows good preservation with little damage to the bones, partly as a consequence of the low predator pressure on large vertebrates. Assemblages from active depositional habitats differ significantly from other habitats in terms of the higher incidence of breakage and chewing marks on bones in the latter, which result from scavenging, mainly by wild boar and red fox. The lake-margin and river-margin death assemblages have high concentrations of well preserved bones that are undergoing burial and offer the greatest potential to produce fossil assemblages. The spatial distribution of species in the Doñana death assemblage generally reflects the preferred habitats of the species in life. Meadows seem to be a preferred winter habitat for male deer, given the high number of shed antlers recorded there. This study is further proof that taphonomy can provide powerful insights to better understand the ecology of modern species and to infer past and future scenarios for the fossil record. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Domingo et al (2020) Taphonomic information from the modern vertebrate death assemblage of Doñana National Park, Spain. PLOS ONE 15(11): e0242082. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0242082


https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0242082
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Carp eggs survive transport through avian intestine

Carp eggs survive transport through avian intestine

Fish have somehow colonized isolated water bodies all over the world without human assistance. It has long been speculated that these colonization events are assisted by waterbirds, transporting fish eggs attached to their feet and feathers, yet empirical support for this is lacking. Recently, it was suggested that endozoochory (i.e., internal transport within the gut) might play a more important role, but only highly resistant diapause eggs of killifish have been found to survive passage through waterbird guts. A controlled feeding experiment was performed, where developing eggs of two cosmopolitan, invasive cyprinids (common carp, Prussian carp) were fed to captive mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). Live embryos of both species were retrieved from fresh feces and survived beyond hatching. This study identifies an overlooked dispersal mechanism in fish, providing evidence for bird-mediated dispersal ability of soft-membraned eggs undergoing active development. Only 0.2% of ingested eggs survived gut passage, yet, given the abundance, diet, and movements of ducks in nature, these results have major implications for biodiversity conservation and invasion dynamics in freshwater ecosystems. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Lovas-Kiss et al (2020) Experimental evidence of dispersal of cyprinid eggs inside migratory waterfowl. PNAS doi/10.1073/pnas.2004805117


https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/17/2004805117