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Dam construction and water diversions along the Colorado River during the twentieth century have altered the downstream estuarine ecosystem. Although it is clear that the ecosystem has changed, a lack of pre-impact studies has made it challenging to determine the magnitude and direction of change. By using a paleontological approach, we can retrospectively estimate ecological conditions in the estuary from before dam construction, particularly for benthic organisms with preservable hard parts, such as the shells of bivalve mollusks. Here, for the first time, we quantify differences in evenness, richness, taxonomic similarity, and rank-order abundance between the bivalve community living in the estuary today and...