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Ecological selectivity of the emerging mass extinction in the oceans
Payne, J.L.; Bush, A.M.; Heim, N.A.; Knope, M.L.; McCauley, D.J. (2016). Ecological selectivity of the emerging mass extinction in the oceans. Science (Wash.) 353(6305): 1284-1286.
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: New York, N.Y. ISSN 0036-8075; e-ISSN 1095-9203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Payne, J.L.
  • Bush, A.M.
  • Heim, N.A.
  • Knope, M.L.
  • McCauley, D.J.

    To better predict the ecological and evolutionary effects of the emerging biodiversity crisis in the modern oceans, we compared the association between extinction threat and ecological traits in modern marine animals to associations observed during past extinction events using a database of 2497 marine vertebrate and mollusc genera. We find that extinction threat in the modern oceans is strongly associated with large body size, whereas past extinction events were either nonselective or preferentially removed smaller-bodied taxa. Pelagic animals were victimized more than benthic animals during previous mass extinctions but are not preferentially threatened in the modern ocean. The differential importance of large-bodied animals to ecosystem function portends greater future ecological disruption than that caused by similar levels of taxonomic loss in past mass extinction events.

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