▪ Abstract 

Studies of plant and animal assemblages from both the terrestrial and the marine fossil records reveal persistence for extensive periods of geological time, sometimes millions of years. Persistence does not require lack of change or the absence of variation from one occurrence of the assemblage to the next in geological time. It does, however, imply that assemblage composition is bounded and that variation occurs within those bounds. The principal cause for these patterns appears to be species-, and perhaps clade-level, environmental fidelity that results in long-term tracking of physical conditions. Other factors that influence persistent recurrence of assemblages are historical, biogeographic effects, the “law of large numbers,” niche differentiation, and biotic interactions. Much research needs to be done in this area, and greater uniformity is needed in the approaches to studying the problem. However, great potential also exists for enhanced interaction between paleoecology and neoecology in understanding spatiotemporal complexity of ecological dynamics.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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