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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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Ducks as vectors of seed dispersal for a broad spectrum of plants

Ducks as vectors of seed dispersal for a broad spectrum of plants

Dabbling ducks have long been recognized as important vectors of dispersal for strictly aquatic plants. In terrestrial ecosystems they are widely assumed to be irrelevant. In this study we identified the plant species dispersed by seven duck species in Europe based on a comprehensive review of gut contents. 445 plant species from 189 genera and 57 families were identified. These plant species represent a wide range of wetland and terrestrial habitats, including almost the full range of site fertility, moisture and light conditions recorded for the European flora. They represent a wide range of dispersal syndromes, and most of these plants (62%) have not previously been considered as animal-dispersed in plant databases. Wetland plants make up only 40% of the dispersed species. Ducks feed opportunistically on a wide cross-section of plant species available across the landscapes they inhabit. Internal seed dispersal by dabbling ducks appears to be a major dispersal pathway for a far broader spectrum of plant species than previously considered. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Soons et al (2016) Seed dispersal by dabbling ducks: an overlooked dispersal pathway for a broad spectrum of plant species. J Ecol doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12531


http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2745.12531/full