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Phylogenetic signal and the effect of body size on determining Carnivora fossil record quality

Grant number: 22/02093-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2022
Effective date (End): February 28, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Paleozoology
Principal Investigator:Tiago Bosisio Quental
Grantee:Thaís Gomes Piazza Faria
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:21/06780-4 - The deep time drivers of biodiversity at the local, regional and global scales, AP.BTA.JP2


The fossil record is undoubtedly the most direct way to estimate speciation and extinction rates, but it might be spatially and temporally incomplete and show variation in preservation among lineages. Understanding what factors might affect the recording quality should allow us to better interpret macroevolutionary inferences and guide us in the development of future tools designed to deal with such biases. In this project, we will first quantify fossil record quality for different species of Carnivora (Mammalia) by measuring how many fossil occurrences each living species has. The advantage of using extant species to study preservation quality is that we can use a rather complete molecular phylogeny and hence explicitly incorporate species relatedness into the following analysis. After quantifying fossil record quality, we will estimate if it shows a phylogenetic signal and then investigates if species body size is statistically associated with fossil record quality. Body size could directly or indirectly interfere with different processes that affect the quality of the fossil record (ranging from fossilization processes up to researcher interest). Larger species might be more easily identified and attract more interest from researchers rendering more fossil occurrences to larger species. On the other hand, smaller species by the virtue of typically having higher reproductive rates and larger population size might eventually have a higher probability of fossilization resulting from a purely statistical effect. The student will use the fossil record of Carnivora (Mammalia), a molecular phylogeny from previously published work, and generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) to investigate those questions.(AU)

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