Macroecology and macroevolution
Macquarie University

Recent papers

Effects of habitat disturbance on tropical forest biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017).

On a conservative Bayesian method of inferring extinction. Paleobiology (2016).

The relationship between diet and body mass in terrestrial mammals. Paleobiology (Pineda-Munoz et al. 2016).

Near-stasis in the long-term diversification of Mesozoic tetrapods. PLOS Biology 14(2):e1002359 (Benson et al. 2016).

A more precise speciation and extinction rate estimator. Paleobiology 41:633-639 (2015).

Current extinction rates of reptiles and amphibians. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112:13003-13008 (2015).

The shape of terrestrial abundance distributions. Science Advances 1:e1500082 (2015).

A simple way to improve multivariate analyses of paleoecological data sets. Paleobiology 41:377-386 (2015).

Limits to captive breeding of mammals in zoos. Conservation Biology 29:926-931 (2015).

A new twist on a very old binary similarity coefficient. Ecology 96:575-586 (2015).

A simple Bayesian method of inferring extinction. Paleobiology 40:584-607 (2014).

Dietary characterization of terrestrial mammals. Proceedings B 281:20141173 (Pineda-Munoz and Alroy 2014).

Accurate and precise estimates of origination and extinction rates. Paleobiology 40:374-397 (2014).

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney, where I oversee the Ecological Register, Fossilworks, and the annual analytical palaeobiology workshop.

Greatest hits

The shifting balance of diversity among major marine animal groups. Science 329:1191-1194 (2010)

Dynamics of origination and extinction in the marine fossil record. PNAS 105:11536-11542 (2008)

How many named species are valid? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99:3706-3711 (2002)

A multi-species overkill simulation of the end-Pleistocene megafaunal mass extinction. Science 292:1893-1896 (2001)

New methods for quantifying macroevolutionary patterns and processes. Paleobiology 26(4):707-733 (2000)

Cope's rule and the dynamics of body mass evolution in North American mammals. Science 280:731-734 (1998)

My research focus for many years was diversity curves, speciation, and extinction, with most of my publications being about Cenozoic North American mammals or (under duress) Phanerozoic marine invertebrates. But I have finally seen the light at the end of the Phanerozoic and turned my attention to quantifying diversity and extinction at this very moment.

My latest greatest inspirations are the gap filler turnover rate equations, the creeping-shadow-of-a-doubt Bayesian extinction probability equation (say that a few times fast), the rescaled Forbes index, the agnostic equation, the double geometric distribution, the λ5 index, and multiton subsampling. But before that came shareholder quorum subsampling, which is making a big splash in ecology under a different name and attributed to different authors. Try running it on your ecological count data with this simple R function - if you dare. And for the more ambitious, there's always the option of downloading the fossil record of everything and crunching it to smithereens with the Fossilworks built-in diversity curve generator.

I also have current or recent projects concerning contemporary extinction rates, latitudinal species richness gradients, empirical abundance distributions, body mass estimation, Quaternary megafaunal extinctions, zoo finances, and, wow, at this point I'm starting to lose track of it all. Not to mention that oh so many years ago I worked way too hard on quantitative methods of time scale construction.

I am a graduate of Reed College and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. Between 1994 and 1996 I was a post-doctoral fellow in the University of Arizona's Research Training Group in the Analysis of Biodiversification, which was affiliated with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Between 1996 and 1998 I had yet another post-doc with the Smithsonian Institution's Department of Paleobiology and Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems program. And between 1998 and 2010 I was a lost soul at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara.

If that's not enough, my CV gives all the gory details. And if you simply must know right now you can cast an e-mail into the ether using this very special address: <john dot alroy at mq dot edu dot au>.

And yes, I think that someday the Mets will win the World Series.

Old favorites

Are Sepkoski's evolutionary faunas dynamically coherent? Evolutionary Ecology Research 6(1):1-32 (2004)

Taxonomic inflation and body mass distributions in North American fossil mammals. Journal of Mammalogy 84(2):431-443 (2003)

Putting North America's end-Pleistocene megafaunal extinction in context: large scale analyses of spatial patterns, extinction rates, and size distributions. Pp. 105-143 in R. D. E. MacPhee (ed.), Extinctions in near time: causes, contexts, and consequences. Plenum, New York (1999)

The fossil record of North American mammals: evidence for a Paleocene evolutionary radiation. Systematic Biology 48(1):107-118 (1999)

Alroy's Abbreviated Ten Statistical Commandments

Overarching themes

• Log thy data

• All is a gradient

• See the nonparametric light

• Disdain p-values

• Maximize a posteriori

Diversity curve variations

• Abhor tiny time series

• Detrend thy time series

• Sample fairly, not uniformly

• Count only thy sampled taxa

• The secret of life is... gap fillers


• λ5 richness estimator (PNAS, 2017)

• Multiton subsampling (PNAS, 2017)

• Agnostic equation (PNAS, 2015)

• Corrected Forbes index (Ecology, 2015)

• Creeping-shadow-of-a-doubt probabilities (Paleobiology, 2014)

• Gap filler turnover rates (Paleobiology, 2014)

• Shareholder quorum subsampling (Science, 2010)

• Three timer turnover rates (PNAS, 2008)

• Flux ratio (PNAS, 2002)

• Proportional volatility G statistic (Paleobiology, 2000)

• Cohort-based turnover proportions (Palaeo3, 1996)

• Occurrences-weighted subsampling (Palaeo3, 1996)

• Continuous track analysis (Systematic Biology, 1995)

• Appearance event ordination (Paleobiology, 1994, 2000)

• Compatibility permutation tests (Systematic Biology, 1994)

• Disjunct distribution ordination (Paleobiology, 1992)

Plus some really bad ones not worth mentioning. Plus a database that sucked up way too much time, as you can tell...