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A dynamic global equilibrium in carnivoran diversification

Publication Date: 24 January, 2014

 

Proceedings of the Royal Society B published online 22 January 2014

A dynamic global equilibrium in carnivoran diversification over 20 million years

Authors: Lee Hsiang Liow, University of Oslo and John A. Finarelli, UCD School of Biology and Environment Science & UCD Earth Institute

Compilation of species-level data for over 10 000 fossil occurrences of nearly 1400 carnivoran species was used to estimate extinction, speciation and net diversification for carnivorans through the Neogene (22–2 Ma), while simultaneously modelling sampling probability. Analyses shows that caniforms (dogs, bears and relatives) have higher speciation and extinction rates than feliforms (cats, hyenas and relatives), but lower rates of net diversification.

We also find that despite continual species turnover, net carnivoran diversification through the Neogene is surprisingly stable, suggesting a saturated adaptive zone, despite restructuring of the physical environment. This result is strikingly different from analyses of carnivoran diversification estimated from extant species alone. Two intervals show elevated diversification rates (13–12 Ma and 4–3 Ma), although the precise causal factors behind the two peaks in carnivoran diversification remain open questions.

Read the full paper here.