In recent years several authors have questioned the reality of a widely accepted and apparently large increase in marine biodiversity through the Cenozoic. Here we use collection-level occurrence data from the rich and uniquely well documented New Zealand (NZ) shelfal marine mollusc fauna to test this question at a regional scale. Because the NZ data were generated by a small number of workers and have been databased over many decades, we have been able to either avoid or quantify many of the biases inherent in analyses of past biodiversity. In particular, our major conclusions are robust to several potential taphonomic and systematic biases and methodological uncertainties, namely non-uniform loss of aragonitic faunas, biostratigraphic range errors, taxonomic errors, choice of time bins, choice of analytical protocols, and taxonomic rank of analysis.
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