Field of Science

Provincialization of Terrestrial Faunas Following the End-Permian Mass Extinction.

Sidor, C. A., D. A. Vilhena, K. D. Angielczyk, A. K. Huttenlocker, S. J. Nesbitt, B. R. Peecook, J. S. Steyer, R. M. H. Smith, and L. A. Tsuji. 2013. Provincialization of terrestrial faunas following the end-Permian mass extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (advance online publication)
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1302323110

Abstract -  In addition to their devastating effects on global biodiversity, mass extinctions have had a long-term influence on the history of life by eliminating dominant lineages that suppressed ecological change. Here, we test whether the end-Permian mass extinction (252.3 Ma) affected the distribution of tetrapod faunas within the southern hemisphere and apply quantitative methods to analyze four components of biogeographic structure: connectedness, clustering, range size, and endemism. For all four components, we detected increased provincialism between our Permian and Triassic datasets. In southern Pangea, a more homogeneous and broadly distributed fauna in the Late Permian (Wuchiapingian, ~257 Ma) was replaced by a provincial and biogeographically fragmented fauna by Middle Triassic times (Anisian, ~242 Ma). Importantly in the Triassic, lower latitude basins in Tanzania and Zambia included dinosaur predecessors and other archosaurs unknown elsewhere. The recognition of heterogeneous tetrapod communities in the Triassic implies that the end-Permian mass extinction afforded ecologically marginalized lineages the ecospace to diversify, and that biotic controls (i.e., evolutionary incumbency) were fundamentally reset. Archosaurs, which began diversifying in the Early Triassic, were likely beneficiaries of this ecological release and remained dominant for much of the later Mesozoic.

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