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Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 18, 2023
Abstract The fossil record of marine invertebrates has long fuelled the debate as to whether or not there are limits to global diversity in the sea 1–5 . Ecological theory states that, as diversity grows and ecological niches are filled, the strengthening of biological interactions imposes limits on diversity 6,7 . However, the extent to which biological interactions have constrained the growth of diversity over evolutionary time remains an open question 1–5,8–11 . Here we present a regional diversification model that reproduces the main Phanerozoic eon trends in the global diversity of marine invertebrates after imposing mass extinctions. We find that the dynamics of global diversity are best described by a diversification model that operates widely within the exponential growth regime of a logistic function. A spatially resolved analysis of the ratio of diversity to carrying capacity reveals that less than 2% of the global flooded continental area throughout the Phanerozoic exhibits diversity levels approaching ecological saturation. We attribute the overall increase in global diversity during the Late Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras to the development of diversity hotspots under prolonged conditions of Earth system stability and maximum continental fragmentation. We call this the ‘diversity hotspots hypothesis’, which we propose asmore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 21, 2023
Decreasing Phanerozoic extinction intensity as a consequence of Earth surface oxygenation and metazoan ecophysiology
The decline in background extinction rates of marine animals through geologic time is an established but unexplained feature of the Phanerozoic fossil record. There is also growing consensus that the ocean and atmosphere did not become oxygenated to near-modern levels until the mid-Paleozoic, coinciding with the onset of generally lower extinction rates. Physiological theory provides us with a possible causal link between these two observations—predicting that the synergistic impacts of oxygen and temperature on aerobic respiration would have made marine animals more vulnerable to ocean warming events during periods of limited surface oxygenation. Here, we evaluate the hypothesis that changes in surface oxygenation exerted a first-order control on extinction rates through the Phanerozoic using a combined Earth system and ecophysiological modeling approach. We find that although continental configuration, the efficiency of the biological carbon pump in the ocean, and initial climate state all impact the magnitude of modeled biodiversity loss across simulated warming events, atmospheric oxygen is the dominant predictor of extinction vulnerability, with metabolic habitat viability and global ecophysiotype extinction exhibiting inflection points around 40% of present atmospheric oxygen. Given this is the broad upper limit for estimates of early Paleozoic oxygen levels, our results are consistent with themore »