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Am Nat. 2006 Oct;168(4):556-64. Epub 2006 Aug 29.

Larval ecology, geographic range, and species survivorship in Cretaceous mollusks: organismic versus species-level explanations.

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  • 1Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


The observation that geographic range size in Cretaceous mollusks is correlated with species survivorship and is heritable at the species level has figured repeatedly in discussions of species selection over the past two decades. However, some authors have suggested that the relationship between mode of larval development and geographic range supports the reduction of this example to selection on organismic properties. Our reanalysis of Jablonski's work on heritability at the species level finds that geographic range is significantly heritable (using a randomization test) in both bivalves and gastropods, even within a single larval mode. Further, generalized linear models show that geographic range size is more important than larval mode in predicting extinction probability in both gastropods and bivalves. These results reaffirm the role and heritability of geographic range as a species-level property that can promote species selection; the model-based approach applied here may help to operationalize "screening off " and related approaches to evaluating hierarchical explanations in evolution.

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