Taphonomic, geological and sampling processes have been cited as biasing richness measurements in the fossil record, and sampling proxies have been widely used to assess this. However, the link between sampling and taxonomic richness is poorly understood, and there has been much debate on the equivalence and relevance of proxies. We approach this question by combining both historical and novel data: a historical fossil occurrence dataset with uniquely high spatial resolution from the Upper Cretaceous Chalk Group of Hampshire, UK, and a newly compiled 3D geological model that maps subsurface extent. The geological model provides rock volumes, and these are compared with exposure and outcrop area, sampling proxies that have often been conflated in previous studies. The extent to which exposure area (true rock availability) has changed over research time is also tested. We find a trend of low Cenomanian to high Turonian to Campanian raw richness, which correlates with, and is possibly driven by, the number of specimens found. After sampling standardization, an unexpected mid-Turonian peak diversity is recovered, and sampling-standardized genus richness is best predicted by rock volume, suggesting a species–area (or ‘genus–area’) effect. Additionally, total exposure area has changed over time, but relative exposure remains the same.
Supplementary materials: A locality list, abundance matrix and all correlation and modelling results are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3592208.
- Received July 26, 2016.
- Revision received September 25, 2016.
- Accepted October 5, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)