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Unlocking preservation bias in the amber insect fossil record through experimental decay.

McCoy, VE, Soriano, C, Pegoraro, M, Luo, T, Boom, A, Foxman, B and Gabbott, SE (2018) Unlocking preservation bias in the amber insect fossil record through experimental decay. PLoS One, 13 (4). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Fossils entombed in amber are a unique resource for reconstructing forest ecosystems, and resolving relationships of modern taxa. Such fossils are famous for their perfect, life-like appearance. However, preservation quality is vast with many sites showing only cuticular preservation, or no fossils. The taphonomic processes that control this range are largely unknown; as such, we know little about potential bias in this important record. Here we employ actualistic experiments, using, fruit flies and modern tree resin to determine whether resin type, gut microbiota, and dehydration prior to entombment affects decay. We used solid phase microextraction gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SPME GC-MS) to confirm distinct tree resin chemistry; gut microbiota of flies was modified using antibiotics and categorized though sequencing. Decay was assessed using phase contrast synchrotron tomography. Resin type demonstrates a significant control on decay rate. The composition of the gut microbiota was also influential, with minor changes in composition affecting decay rate. Dehydration prior to entombment, contrary to expectations, enhanced decay. Our analyses show that there is potential significant bias in the amber fossil record, especially between sites with different resin types where ecological completeness and preservational fidelity are likely affected.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: McCoy VE, Soriano C, Pegoraro M, Luo T, Boom A, Foxman B, et al. (2018) Unlocking preservation bias in the amber insect fossil record through experimental decay. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0195482. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195482
Uncontrolled Keywords: MD Multidisciplinary
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2018 09:34
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2018 15:06
DOI or Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195482
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8467

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