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Opening of the Hispanic Corridor and Early Jurassic bivalve biodiversity

Martin Aberhan
Martin Aberhan
Museum für Naturkunde, Institut für Palaontologie, Invalidenstr. 43, D-10115 Berlin, Germany, (e-mail:
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January 01, 2002


The Hispanic Corridor is a postulated marine seaway linking the eastern Pacific and western Tethyan oceans as early as Early Jurassic times. Two existing hypotheses relate the Pliensbachian-Toarcian bivalve extinction and recovery to immigration of bivalve species through the Hispanic Corridor. The extinction hypothesis implies that, in South America, the Pliensbachian-Toarcian extinction can be partly explained by the immigration of bivalves through the Hispanic Corridor and subsequent competitive replacement. The recovery hypothesis states that, in NW Europe, the renewed rise in diversity in the late Toarcian/Aalenian was largely a consequence of immigration of taxa from Andean South America via the Hispanic Corridor.

To test these hypotheses, I calculated immigration and origination rates of bivalves per million years. In both regions, early Pliensbachian to Aalenian immigration rates remained at low levels, thus disproving both hypotheses. By comparison, the origination of new species generally played a much more important role than immigration in controlling overall diversity of both regions. Future research should investigate if this is a more general pattern in the recovery of post-extinction biotas.

The apparently global Pliensbachian-Toarcian diversity crisis may be best explained by a combination of physicochemical factors, invoking intense volcanism, sea-level highstand and widespread anoxia, as well as biological factors. Recovery from this mass extinction commenced when origination rates increased again, which, in the Andean basins, was in the Aalenian and in NW Europe, the late Toarcian.

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Figures & Tables


Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Palaeobiogeography and Biodiversity Change: the Ordovician and Mesozoic–Cenozoic Radiations

J. A. Crame
J. A. Crame
British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
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A. W. Owen
A. W. Owen
University of Glasgow, UK
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2002




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