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First Advisor

Laura Stroik


Changes in the structure of ecological communities are often correlated with changes in the surrounding environment. The Bighorn Basin in Wyoming presents fossil evidence that depicts significant shifts in the community structure of North American mammalian species at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. This diversity can be credited to marked temperature increases during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. The association between temperature and dietary niche of omomyid euprimates, specifically the Tetonius lineage, was examined using reconstructed relief index, a dental topographic measure (N=20). A correlation analysis supported the hypothesis that abiotic changes in climate during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum were linked to variation in omomyid dietary niches (P<0.05). These changes in Tetonius dietary niche are associated with anagenetic speciation in the lineage and may have been influenced by both shifts in climate and interactions with other members of the community.

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