Exploring the Anthropocene through Multivariate Analysis of Diversity Metrics in Upper Mississippi River System FIsh Communities



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The proposed epoch of the Anthropocene has been slow to gain acceptance despite mounting evidence indicating that human inputs now have a greater impact on Earth’s ecosystems than do natural processes (Corlett 2015; Waters et al. 2016). Humans have had an undeniable impact causing the global loss of biodiversity (Dungeohn et al. 2017). We look at fish community diversity in the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) to explore changes in diversity over millennia that may be consistent with an Anthropocene epoch. The basic components of diversity are taxonomic richness and relative abundance of taxa. Therefore, we compare community structure with both these metrics as the basis for a multivariate comparison of archaeological collections and modern fish monitoring data. Modern samples have a greater mean taxonomic richness relative to archaeological collections (even after restricting the taxa examined to those found in archaeology) and have a smaller range. In contrast, relative abundance patterns were more similar for archaeology collections relative to modern samples. Therefore, no apparent trends can be identified for overall taxonomic diversity.