High-resolution stratigraphic and taxonomic data indicate that species longevities among Paleozoic (Mississippian) crinoids (Echinodermata) were affected by differences in niche breadth. A strong positive relationship exists between niche breadth, measured as the number of environments occupied by a species, and stratigraphic range. The robustness of this pattern is verified by a variety of rarefaction and statistical techniques confirming the long-held supposition that among animals ecological “generalists” have greater species longevities than ecological “specialists.” The results also support the hypothesis that specialist clades have higher species richness.

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