The paleontology It is the science in charge of studying fossil organisms in order to know what is the past of life on our planet. Several branches arise from this discipline: palaeoecology, palaeozoology, and paleobotany. Paleoecology allows us to know what ecosystems were like in the past and what their evolution has been throughout geological time. Research in paleoecology arrived late in Spain, compared to other countries and the evolution of other sciences. In fact, its inclusion in the Spanish Association of Terrestrial Ecology (AEET) is still incipient. Therefore, it is normal that you do not know the concept of paleoecology or that you have ever wondered, when hearing its name, what paleoecology studies.
If you want to clarify your doubts and find out more about the meaning of paleoecology, continue reading this article by Green Ecologist about what is paleoecology, its characteristics and importance, where you can also discover examples of paleoecology that accompany the explanations and facilitate the understanding of one of the most interesting branches of paleontology and ecology.
Following the definition of paleoecology, we could say that it is the science in charge of studying the relationship of fossil biota with its environment and how it has evolved over time. With this, it is possible to reconstruct the environments and ecosystems of our planet throughout the different geological eras, which is the main one goal of paleoecology.
This branch of paleontology, which favors a greater understanding of the interactions between the ecological and the evolutionary, is based mainly on the analysis of pollen and fossil spores, that is, on palynology. But what does this technique consist of? Since the beginning of the last century, through palynological method, scientists have been and are capable of identifying and describing the changes that vegetation undergoes (density, height, shape, adaptations, etc.) with climatic variations (temperature, salinity, solar radiation, humidity, etc.).
Some of his characteristics of paleoecology are:
With the aim of recreating environments and ecosystems, paleoecology is normally based on the realization of statistical inferences and in the mathematical modeling. To do this, it uses as a knowledge base data and information about the species that we currently know and that have a certain kinship with the fossil organisms under study.
In the specific case of the palynological method, to study pollen and spores, substances such as hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid and nitric acid. Once the samples have been prepared, they are observed using an optical microscope or a scanning electron microscope. In the case of non-pollen fossils, such as those of aquatic organisms (such as algae, bacteria, zooplankton) contained in sediment, the dating is done through microscopic analysis. With this laboratory analysis, organisms that have succeeded each other from the oldest deep levels of the sediment to the most current can be identified.
To sum up what is the importance of paleoecology we take into account these aspects:
If you've been interested in learning about paleoecology, you may want to find out more about what our planet looked like millions of years ago. Here we show you more articles by Green Ecologist on Types of fossilization and their characteristics, What is the oldest fossil in the world and Why the dinosaurs became extinct.
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