However, the gravel bar death assemblage is more similar in taxonomic composition to the life assemblages than to the other two death assemblages, suggesting that the gravel bar approximates the present day composition of the local mollusc fauna ecosystem more closely than either the bay or lagoonal death assemblages.
If bird predation can be detected through indirect and noninvasive means, especially in intertidal habitats, it would be possible to determine whether the death assemblage is biased, with respect to body size or species, which can then be corrected for accordingly in paleoecological and historical ecological studies.
This suggests that degradation and fragmentation patterns in the bay death assemblage would primarily be the result of physical and biological processes other than avian predation.
Whereas species richness among the three environments are comparable (Table 4), the abundance of species differs notably between the assemblages within and across environments (Table 5) In Argyle Bay, the entire life and death assemblages are both dominated by Macoma (79% and 41% of bay sample respectively), whereas in the lagoon the life assemblage is dominated by Protothaca (95%) and the death assemblage is dominated by Tapes (52%) despite the scarcity of live specimens of Tapes observed during data collection.
A life assemblage represents the present-day abundance of bivalve species for an ecosystem and is susceptible to annual fluctuations; in contrast a death assemblage is an average representation of the annual abundance distribution of an ecosystem, sometimes thousands of years of production (Kowalewski et al.
Moreover, Grill and Zuschin (2001) studied bivalve death assemblages in the Red Sea between shallow and deep settings.
Preservation of community structure in modern reef coral life and death assemblages of Florida Keys: implications for the Quaternary fossil record of coral reefs.
Modern shallow-to deep-water bivalve death assemblages in the Red Sea-ecology and biogeography.
Preservation of community structure in death assemblages of deep water Caribbean reef corals.
Fidelity of molluscan life and death assemblages on sublittoral hard substrata around Granitic Islands of the Seychelles.
Larsen argues that this conundrum resides in whether or not death assemblages
represent estimates of mortality or fertility, a confusion that can be disentangled through the use of a ratio of those individuals under five to those over 30 years of age at death.