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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations contained in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the U.S. Geological Survey. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government. Supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Contract No. 0106060 and by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Department of the Interior, under Award No. 01HQAG0216.

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Cover: Background photograph shows mollusk shells on the Colorado River delta in Mexico, which record the biotas and environmental conditions prior to upstream diversion of freshwater. Radiocarbon, amino acid, and growth line analyses of the shells, together with oxygen and carbon stable isotope analyses, provide detailed chronologies of temperature, salinity, productivity, and other environmental parameters. Photo courtesy Karl W. Flessa. Outcrop photograph shows rhythmically bedded Late Cretaceous (~87 Ma) limestones and shales in the Terlingua Creek canyon of West Texas. The geologic record can be used as an ecological laboratory when rocks preserve a near-continuous sequence of repeated environmental and biotic change; photo courtesy Brad Sageman.

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