Integrating the present and past records of climate, biodiversity and biogeography: implications for palaeoecology and palaeoclimatology
Paul J. Markwick, 2002. "Integrating the present and past records of climate, biodiversity and biogeography: implications for palaeoecology and palaeoclimatology", Palaeobiogeography and Biodiversity Change: the Ordovician and Mesozoic–Cenozoic Radiations, J. A. Crame, A. W. Owen
Download citation file:
A geographic information system (GIS) based, integrated dataset of Recent North American, European, southern African and Australian non-avian tetrapod faunas is used to examine the macroscale relationship between climate, biogeography and terrestrial taxonomic and functional species diversity (richness). The results support a modified form of the species-energy hypothesis, with the pattern of terrestrial biodiversity reflecting the manner in which species procure energy, rather than only the absolute amount of ‘available energy’. Area and history are also found to be important. Ectotherms show the simplest relationship with environmental variables (and strongest latitudinal diversity gradients), and endotherms the most complex. A strong linear relationship is found between the proportion of each fauna represented by ectotherms and temperature (mean annual temperature and coldest month mean temperature). This relationship is used in an experiment to retrodict the palaeotemperature for the Middle Eocene lagerstatten fauna from Messel, Germany. Results compare well with interpretations based on other climate proxies.
Figures & Tables
The study of biodiversity through geological time provides important information for the understanding of diversity patterns at the present day. Hitherto, much effort has been paid to studying the mass extinctions of the Phanerozoic but the research emphasis has now changed to focus on what occurred between these spectacular catastrophic events. After the Cambrian ‘explosion’ of marine organisms with readily preservable skeletons, there have been two intervals when life radiated dramatically — the Ordovician Period, and the mid-Mesozoic-Cenozoic eras. These intervals saw a fundamental reorganization of biodiversity on a hierarchy of biogeographical scales. The size of these diversity increases and their probable causes are topics of intense debate, and there is an intriguing link between the dispersal of continents, changing climates and the proliferation of life.
The papers in this volume are written by palaeontologists, biogeographers and geologists addressing the highly topical field of palaeobiodiversity in the context of the Earth’s changing geography. Palaeobiogeography and Biodiversity Change: the Ordovician and Mesozoic-Cenozoic Radiations illustrates many aspects of the two great episodes of biotic radiation and shows how long periods of time and plate tectonic movements have a fundamental influence on the generation and maintenance of major extant biodiversity patterns.
The volume will be of interest to professional palaeontologists, biologists and geologists, as well as to students in earth and biological sciences.