Title

Giants on the Landscape: Modelling the Abundance of Megaherbivorous Dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation (Late Jurassic, Western USA)

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-2010

Publication Source

Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology

Volume

22

Issue

4

Inclusive pages

403-429

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

The ecosystem impact of megaherbivorous dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation would have depended on their abundance (number of animals per unit of habitat area) on the landscape. We constrain Morrison megaherbivore abundance by modelling dinosaur abundance in terms of carrying capacity (K), average body mass (ABM) and animal’s energy needs. Two kinds of model are presented: ‘demand-side’ models that estimate K in terms of the aggregate energy demand of the dinosaur community, and ‘supply-side’ models that estimate K in terms of retrodicted primary productivity. Baseline values of K, ABM and energy needs for the models are further derived from comparisons with modern large herbivores, and from the composition of the megaherbivore fauna from a particular stratigraphic interval of the Morrison, but in all models a broad range of fractions and multiples of these baseline parameters are considered. ‘Best-guess’ estimates of Morrison megaherbivore abundance suggest an upper limit of a few hundred animals across all taxa and size classes per square kilometre, and up to a few tens of individuals of large subadults and adults.

Disciplines

Numerical Analysis and Computation | Paleontology

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