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Science. 2016 Sep 16;353(6305):1284-6. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf2416. Epub 2016 Sep 14.

Ecological selectivity of the emerging mass extinction in the oceans.

Author information

1
Department of Geological Sciences, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Building 320, Stanford, CA 94305-2115, USA. jlpayne@stanford.edu.
2
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Center for Integrative Geosciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-3043, USA.
3
Department of Geological Sciences, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Building 320, Stanford, CA 94305-2115, USA.
4
Department of Biology, University of Hawaii at Hilo, 200 West Kawili Street, Hilo, HI 96720-4091, USA.
5
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.

Abstract

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.

PMID:
27629258
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaf2416
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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