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Evolutionary dispersal drives the latitudinal diversity gradient of stony corals
Spano, C.A.; Hernández, C.E.; Rivadeneira, M.M. (2016). Evolutionary dispersal drives the latitudinal diversity gradient of stony corals. Ecography 39(9): 836-843.
In: Ecography. Munksgaard International: Copenhagen. ISSN 0906-7590, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Spano, C.A.
  • Hernández, C.E.
  • Rivadeneira, M.M.

    The diversity of stony corals displays one of the most exemplary latitudinal gradients on the planet, yet the evolutionary dynamics that produced this pattern remains unclear. Using both paleontological and distributional data, we compare the origination, extinction and immigration levels between low and high latitudes since the earliest proliferation of the group during the mid-Triassic. Altogether, first and last occurrence localities in the fossil record do not support a positive preference towards either latitudinal bin. Nonetheless, considering past and present scleractinian fauna, the process of extinction has been apparently more pronounced at higher latitudes based on face values and correlation coefficients. Far above these differences, immigration of extant taxa has been substantially higher towards the tropics than to temperate regions. While the net dispersal toward low latitudes persists in all temporal intervals, the gradient of diversity was largely built up during the Cenozoic Era and only becomes significantly steep from the Neogene Period onwards. This dynamic supports the ‘into the tropical museum’ model, which suggests that tropics have historically acted as a center of accumulation for marine biodiversity.

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