Competition structured a Late Cretaceous megaherbivorous dinosaur assemblage
Modern megaherbivore community richness is limited by bottom-up controls, such as resource limitation and resultant dietary competition. However, the extent to which these same controls impacted the richness of fossil megaherbivore communities is poorly understood. The present study investigates the matter with reference to the megaherbivorous dinosaur assemblage from the middle to upper Campanian Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta, Canada. Using a meta-analysis of 21 ecomorphological variables measured across 14 genera, contemporaneous taxa are demonstrably well-separated in ecomorphospace at the family/subfamily level. Moreover, this pattern is persistent through the approximately 1.5 Myr timespan of the formation, despite continual species turnover, indicative of underlying structural principles imposed by long-term ecological competition. After considering the implications of ecomorphology for megaherbivorous dinosaur diet, it is concluded that competition structured comparable megaherbivorous dinosaur communities throughout the Late Cretaceous of western North America.