Vertebrate Functional Traits as Proxies for Paleoclimate and Paleoenvironment

Friday, 13 February 2015: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room LL21B (San Jose Convention Center)
P. David Polly, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Interactions between organisms and environment are mediated by traits, and traits thus can serve as paleoenvironmental proxies. We demonstrate the concept with body size in reptiles (mean ambient temperature), locomotor morphology in mammals (vegetative cover), and tooth crown height in mammalian herbivores (aridity). Using a quantitative, probabilistic framework, we show how trait-environment relationships can be used to estimate paleoenvironmental parameters for the Miocene Great Plains.