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Selective extinction against redundant species buffers functional diversity
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Volume: 287, Issue: 1931, Start page: 20201162
Swansea University Author: Catalina Pimiento
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The extinction of species can destabilize ecological processes. A way to assess the ecological consequences of species loss is by examining changes in functional diversity. The preservation of functional diversity depends on the range of ecological roles performed by species, or functional richness,...
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The extinction of species can destabilize ecological processes. A way to assess the ecological consequences of species loss is by examining changes in functional diversity. The preservation of functional diversity depends on the range of ecological roles performed by species, or functional richness, and the number of species per role, or functional redundancy. However, current knowledge is based on short timescales and an understanding of how functional diversity responds to long-term biodiversity dynamics has been limited by the availability of deep-time, trait-based data. Here, we compile an exceptional trait dataset of fossil mollusks from a 23-million-year interval in the Caribbean Sea (34,011 records, 4,422 species) and develop a novel Bayesian model of multi-trait-dependent diversification to reconstruct mollusk (1) diversity dynamics, (2) changes in functional diversity and (3) extinction selectivity over the last 23 million years. Our results identify high diversification between 23 – 5 Ma, leading to increases in both functional richness and redundancy. Conversely, over the last three million years, a period of high extinction rates resulted in the loss of 49% of species but only 3% of functional richness. Extinction rates were significantly higher in small, functionally redundant species suggesting that competition mediated the response of species to environmental change. Taken together, our results identify long-term diversification and selective extinction against redundant species that allowed functional diversity to grow over time, ultimately buffering the ecological functions of biological communities against extinction.
Competition, Extinction, Functional diversity, Caribbean, global change, mollusks
Faculty of Science and Engineering