Macroevolutionary consequences of profound climate change on niche evolution in marine molluscs over the past three million years

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

In order to predict the fate of biodiversity in a rapidly changing world, we must first understand how species adapt to new environmental conditions. The long-term evolutionary dynamics of species' physiological tolerances to differing climatic regimes remain obscure. Here, we unite palaeontological and neontological data to analyse whether species' environmental tolerances remain stable across 3 Myr of profound climatic changes using 10 phylogenetically, ecologically and developmentally diverse mollusc species from the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains, USA. We additionally investigate whether these species' upper and lower thermal tolerances are constrained across this interval. We find that these species' environmental preferences are stable across the duration of their lifetimes, even when faced with significant environmental perturbations. The results suggest that species will respond to current and future warming either by altering distributions to track suitable habitat or, if the pace of change is too rapid, by going extinct. Our findings also support methods that project species' present-day environmental requirements to future climatic landscapes to assess conservation risks.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Macroevolutionary consequences of profound climate change on niche evolution in marine molluscs over the past three million years
Series title Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2014.1995
Volume 281
Issue 1795
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Royal Society Publishing
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center
Description Article 20141995; 9 p.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N