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The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity

Catalina Pimiento Orcid Logo, John Griffin Orcid Logo, Christopher F. Clements, Daniele Silvestro, Sara Varela, Mark D. Uhen, Carlos Jaramillo

Nature Ecology & Evolution, Volume: 1, Issue: 8, Pages: 1100 - 1106

Swansea University Authors: Catalina Pimiento Orcid Logo, John Griffin Orcid Logo

Abstract

The end of the Pliocene marked the beginning of a period of great climatic variability and sea-level oscillations. Here, based on a new analysis of the fossil record, we identify a previously unrecognized extinction event among marine megafauna (mammals, seabirds, turtles and sharks) during this tim...

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Published in: Nature Ecology & Evolution
ISSN: 2397-334X
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2017
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa34515
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spelling 2020-11-12T16:42:52.1093006 v2 34515 2017-06-28 The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity 7dd222e2a1d5971b3f3963f0501a9d4f 0000-0002-5320-7246 Catalina Pimiento Catalina Pimiento true false 9814fbffa76dd9c9a207166354cd0b2f 0000-0003-3295-6480 John Griffin John Griffin true false 2017-06-28 SBI The end of the Pliocene marked the beginning of a period of great climatic variability and sea-level oscillations. Here, based on a new analysis of the fossil record, we identify a previously unrecognized extinction event among marine megafauna (mammals, seabirds, turtles and sharks) during this time, with extinction rates three times higher than in the rest of the Cenozoic, and with 36% of Pliocene genera failing to survive into the Pleistocene. To gauge the potential consequences of this event for ecosystem functioning, we evaluate its impacts on functional diversity, focusing on the 86% of the megafauna genera that are associated with coastal habitats. Seven (14%) coastal functional entities (unique trait combinations) disappeared, along with 17% of functional richness (volume of the functional space). The origination of new genera during the Pleistocene created new functional entities and contributed to a functional shift of 21%, but minimally compensated for the functional space lost. Reconstructions show that from the late Pliocene onwards, the global area of the neritic zone significantly diminished and exhibited amplified fluctuations. We hypothesize that the abrupt loss of productive coastal habitats, potentially acting alongside oceanographic alterations, was a key extinction driver. The importance of area loss is supported by model analyses showing that animals with high energy requirements (homeotherms) were more susceptible to extinction. The extinction event we uncover here demonstrates that marine megafauna were more vulnerable to global environmental changes in the recent geological past than previously thought. Journal Article Nature Ecology & Evolution 1 8 1100 1106 Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2397-334X Extinction, Functional Diversity, Pliocene, Pleistocene, Sea level, Thermoregulation 1 8 2017 2017-08-01 10.1038/s41559-017-0223-6 COLLEGE NANME Biosciences COLLEGE CODE SBI Swansea University 2020-11-12T16:42:52.1093006 2017-06-28T15:10:35.0063505 Faculty of Science and Engineering School of Biosciences, Geography and Physics - Biosciences Catalina Pimiento 0000-0002-5320-7246 1 John Griffin 0000-0003-3295-6480 2 Christopher F. Clements 3 Daniele Silvestro 4 Sara Varela 5 Mark D. Uhen 6 Carlos Jaramillo 7 0034515-28062017151736.pdf Pimiento_et_al_Nature_Ecology_Evolution.pdf 2017-06-28T15:17:36.0870000 Output 950217 application/pdf Accepted Manuscript true 2017-12-26T00:00:00.0000000 true eng
title The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity
spellingShingle The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity
Catalina Pimiento
John Griffin
title_short The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity
title_full The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity
title_fullStr The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity
title_full_unstemmed The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity
title_sort The Pliocene marine megafauna extinction and its impact on functional diversity
author_id_str_mv 7dd222e2a1d5971b3f3963f0501a9d4f
9814fbffa76dd9c9a207166354cd0b2f
author_id_fullname_str_mv 7dd222e2a1d5971b3f3963f0501a9d4f_***_Catalina Pimiento
9814fbffa76dd9c9a207166354cd0b2f_***_John Griffin
author Catalina Pimiento
John Griffin
author2 Catalina Pimiento
John Griffin
Christopher F. Clements
Daniele Silvestro
Sara Varela
Mark D. Uhen
Carlos Jaramillo
format Journal article
container_title Nature Ecology & Evolution
container_volume 1
container_issue 8
container_start_page 1100
publishDate 2017
institution Swansea University
issn 2397-334X
doi_str_mv 10.1038/s41559-017-0223-6
publisher Springer Science and Business Media LLC
college_str Faculty of Science and Engineering
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hierarchy_top_title Faculty of Science and Engineering
hierarchy_parent_id facultyofscienceandengineering
hierarchy_parent_title Faculty of Science and Engineering
department_str School of Biosciences, Geography and Physics - Biosciences{{{_:::_}}}Faculty of Science and Engineering{{{_:::_}}}School of Biosciences, Geography and Physics - Biosciences
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description The end of the Pliocene marked the beginning of a period of great climatic variability and sea-level oscillations. Here, based on a new analysis of the fossil record, we identify a previously unrecognized extinction event among marine megafauna (mammals, seabirds, turtles and sharks) during this time, with extinction rates three times higher than in the rest of the Cenozoic, and with 36% of Pliocene genera failing to survive into the Pleistocene. To gauge the potential consequences of this event for ecosystem functioning, we evaluate its impacts on functional diversity, focusing on the 86% of the megafauna genera that are associated with coastal habitats. Seven (14%) coastal functional entities (unique trait combinations) disappeared, along with 17% of functional richness (volume of the functional space). The origination of new genera during the Pleistocene created new functional entities and contributed to a functional shift of 21%, but minimally compensated for the functional space lost. Reconstructions show that from the late Pliocene onwards, the global area of the neritic zone significantly diminished and exhibited amplified fluctuations. We hypothesize that the abrupt loss of productive coastal habitats, potentially acting alongside oceanographic alterations, was a key extinction driver. The importance of area loss is supported by model analyses showing that animals with high energy requirements (homeotherms) were more susceptible to extinction. The extinction event we uncover here demonstrates that marine megafauna were more vulnerable to global environmental changes in the recent geological past than previously thought.
published_date 2017-08-01T03:42:50Z
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