Evol Ecol Res 18: 25-39 (2017)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

The many shapes of diversity: ecological and evolutionary determinants of biodiversity through time

S. Castiglione1, A. Mondanaro1, F. Carotenuto1, F. Passaro1, M. Fortelius2 and P. Raia1

1Department of Earth Sciences, Environment and Resources, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy and  2Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence: P. Raia, Department of Earth Sciences, Environment and Resources, University of Naples Federico II, 80138 Naples, Italy. email: pasquale.raia@unina.it


Question: Is it either necessary or useful to separate ecological and evolutionary factors as determinants of biodiversity pathways?

Organisms: The fossil record of 58 extinct marine invertebrate groups belonging to six different animal phyla, ranging from the early Palaeozoic to the early Cenozoic, and including a total of 21,554 species.

Methods: We tested six different models of biodiversity evolution by means of maximum likelihood estimation. The models reproduce familiar, long-standing hypotheses on biodiversity controls (such as adaptive radiation, Van Valen’s Red Queen, and density-dependence).

Results: For nearly 90% of the fossil clades analysed, the best model includes an early diversification phase, and increased extinction rate over time. These features are consistent regardless of whether the main determinants of species diversity in the models are ecological or evolutionary. Clades terminated by mass extinctions did not have shorter duration than other clades but were characterized by earlier divergence and greater species richness than other clades.

Conclusion: An early rapid diversification, coupled with a late increase in extinction, is common to the majority of clades, and predicted by the most successful models of biodiversity evolution. This path is consistent with both evolutionary and ecological factors (or better, a combination of the two). The separation of ecological and evolutionary factors as determinants of biodiversity pathways seems neither justified nor necessary.

Keywords: adaptive radiation, diversification rate, diversity-dependence, diversity trend, key innovation.

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