Historical processes tens to hundreds of millions of years in the past have shaped not only the trajectory of life through time but also the distribution and composition of life today. Studies aimed at the origin and evolution of regional biotas promise to forge a stronger link among paleobiology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Improvements in high-resolution stratigraphic interpretation, numerical modeling of the fossil record, and the application of phylogenetic methods to extinct groups will lead to advances in understanding of () assembly of regional biotas, () the ecology of extinct taxa, () the diversification and environmental expansion of major groups, () the processes underlying regional ecosystem persistence and pulsed change, and () whether or not diversity has limits over geologic time.


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