11. Multiproxy Paleoecology

Reconstructing Evolutionary Context in Paleoanthropology

  1. David R. Begun
  1. Kaye E. Reed

Published Online: 14 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch11

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

How to Cite

Reed, K. E. (2013) Multiproxy Paleoecology, in A Companion to Paleoanthropology (ed D. R. Begun), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch11

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444331165

Online ISBN: 9781118332344



  • evolutionary paleoecology;
  • fauna;
  • multiproxy paleoecology;
  • paleoanthropology;
  • taphonomy


Paleoecology is the study of the relationship of the paleoenvironment with fossil organisms and the fossil organisms' interactions with one another, as well as possible taphonomic biases. Multiproxy refers to using as many avenues of research as possible to test paleoecological hypotheses. This chapter outlines the fundamentals of paleoecology, including underlying principles, and discusses various research methods, delineating their strengths and weaknesses. Various abiotic and biotic factors build on one another such that climate, soils, geomorphology, and other geological processes are responsible for the vegetation, which, in turn, plays a fundamental role in controlling what other life forms can be supported. Therefore, the interpretation of paleoecological data requires an understanding of pattern and process analogy, geological processes, climatic processes, taphonomic issues, extant habitats and an appreciation of extant animal communities. Studies of contemporaneous faunas play a critical role in investigating aspects of community ecology.