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Resampling Methods in Paleontology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2017

Michał Kowalewski
Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061
Phil Novack-Gottshall
Department of Biology, Benedictine University, 5700 College Road, Lisle, IL 60532
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This chapter reviews major types of statistical resampling approaches used in paleontology. They are an increasingly popular alternative to the classic parametric approach because they can approximate behaviors of parameters that are not understood theoretically. The primary goal of most resampling methods is an empirical approximation of a sampling distribution of a statistic of interest, whether simple (mean or standard error) or more complicated (median, kurtosis, or eigenvalue). This chapter focuses on the conceptual and practical aspects of resampling methods that a user is likely to face when designing them, rather than the relevant mathematical derivations and intricate details of the statistical theory. The chapter reviews the concept of sampling distributions, outlines a generalized methodology for designing resampling methods, summarizes major types of resampling strategies, highlights some commonly used resampling protocols, and addresses various practical decisions involved in designing algorithm details. A particular emphasis has been placed here on bootstrapping, a resampling strategy used extensively in quantitative paleontological analyses, but other resampling techniques are also reviewed in detail. In addition, ad hoc and literature-based case examples are provided to illustrate virtues, limitations, and potential pitfalls of resampling methods.

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