Evol Ecol Res 4: 963-991 (2002)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Correlates of speciation and extinction rates in the Carnivora

Joao Muñoz-Durán*

Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology and Evolution, University of California, Los Angeles, 621 Charles Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1606, USA

e-mail: jmunoz@protos.lifesci.ucla.edu


Despite great research interest in macroevolutionary patterns in mammals, the factors causing differences in diversity among carnivoran lineages remain unclear. In this study, I analyse whether differences in body size, degree of trophic specialization and sociality level among carnivoran lineages are associated with differences in speciation and/or extinction rates during their recent evolutionary history (Miocene to Recent). I control for the effects of phylogenetic non-independence and use data on the diversity of both fossil and extant taxa to estimate extinction and speciation rates. The results, albeit based on a small sample size, indicate that lineages of highly social carnivorans have significantly higher extinction rates than carnivoran lineages that live solitarily or in small family groups. The results also indicate that the effect of sociality on extinction rates is independent of the effects of body size and trophic specialization. This pattern is explained by the combined effect of intense intra-guild competition, the Allee effect and the relatively small effective population sizes in carnivoran lineages that display reproductive suppression.

Keywords: Allee effect, Carnivora, competition, extinction, reproductive suppression, sociality, speciation.

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