Investigating Biotic Interactions in Deep Time

Recent renewed interest in using fossil data to understand how biotic interactions have shaped the evolution of life is challenging the widely held assumption that long-term climate changes are the primary drivers of biodiversity change. New approaches go beyond traditional richness and co-occurrence studies to explicitly model biotic interactions using data on fossil and modern biodiversity. Important developments in three primary areas of research include analysis of (i) macroevolutionary rates, (ii) the impacts of and recovery from extinction events, and (iii) how humans (Homo sapiens) affected interactions among non-human species. We present multiple lines of evidence for an important and measurable role of biotic interactions in shaping the evolution of communities and lineages on long timescales.