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Global biodiversity loss threatens ecosystem integrity and related services for humans, but most communities lack baseline data to assess the magnitude of change. In marine conservation, molluscan death assemblages are increasingly being used as a proxy for baseline communities, and divergence between the live and the dead is assumed to reflect human impact. A drawback to partitioning an assemblage into live and dead is that inclusion of recently dead specimens in the baseline assemblage artificially reduces differences between before and after. In this study, we address this problem by using a radiocarbon- and amino acid-calibrated taphonomic grading scale to partition recently (post-1950) and long-dead shells from shallow shelf communities of the southwest Florida. This calibrated taphonomic grading scale prevents recently dead (post-1950) specimens from being grouped with baseline assemblages, thus reducing temporal biases in live-dead comparisons. Preliminary data suggest that ecologically important species may have already experienced truncated ranges.

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11th North American Paleontological Conference Program with Abstracts, p. 318

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