Differentiation of high-latitude and polar marine faunas in a greenhouse world

first_imgAim The aim was to investigate those factors that influenced the differentiation of high-latitude and polar marine faunas on both ecological and evolutionary time-scales. Can a focus on a greenhouse world provide some important clues? Location World-wide, but with particular emphasis on the evolution of Antarctic marine faunas. Time period Early Cenozoic era and present day. Major taxa studied Mollusca, especially Neogastropoda. Methods The Early Cenozoic global radiation of one of the largest extant marine clades, Neogastropoda, was examined, and detailed comparisons were made between two tropical localities and Antarctica. High- to low-latitude faunal differentiation was assessed using Sørensen’s dissimilarity index, and component species in each of the three faunas were assigned to 29 families and family groups. Relative diversity distributions were fitted to these three faunas and two modern ones to assess the contrast in evenness between high- and low-latitude assemblages. Results By the Middle Eocene, a distinct high-latitude neogastropod fauna had evolved in Antarctica. In addition, the distribution of species within families in this fauna is statistically significantly less even than that in the tropics. Indeed, there is no detectable difference in the scale of this separation from that seen today. Exactly as in the modern fauna, Middle Eocene Antarctic neogastropods are dominated by a small number of trophic generalist groups. Main conclusions As the hyperdiverse Neogastropoda clade radiated globally through the Early Cenozoic, it differentiated into distinct high- and low-latitude components. The fact that it did so in a greenhouse world strongly suggests that something else besides temperature was involved in this process. The predominance of generalist feeding types in the Antarctic fossil faunas is linked to the phenomenon of a seasonally pulsed food supply, exactly as it is today. Seasonality in primary productivity may act as a fundamental control on the evolution of large-scale biodiversity patternslast_img read more

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