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Neotoma Supports Science

Paleobiological data from the recent geological past have been invaluable for understanding ecological and landscape dynamics at timescales inaccessible to direct observation, including ecosystem and landscape evolution, contemporary patterns of biodiversity, principles of ecosystem organization, particularly the individualistic response of species to environmental gradients, and the biotic response to climatic change, both gradual and abrupt.

Fossil data document evolutionary processes, inter- and intracontinental dispersal, and extinction. Understanding the dynamics of ecological systems requires ecological time series, but many ecological processes operate too slowly to be amenable to experimentation or direct observation. In addition to having ecological significance, fossil data have tremendous importance for climatology and global change research. Paleo data are crucial for climate-model verification and are essential for elucidating climate-vegetation interactions that may partly control climate. These data also have great archaeological importance for understanding past landscapes, resource availability, human use of resources, and human impact on the environment.

Neotoma is focused on the Pliocene-Quaternary section of the geologic record, the time during which continents have had their current configuration, modern ecosystems developed, humans evolved, and late Pleistocene extinctions occurred across most continents. It is a time therefore particularly relevant for evaluating global change. The recent geologic record is also very rich in fossils, which is especially well preserved and accessible, especially because of widespread unconsolidated organic sediments in lakes and peatlands.