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Cenozoic climate change influences mammalian evolutionary dynamics

  1. Paul Palmqvistb
  1. aDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912;
  2. bDepartamento de Ecología y Geología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Málaga, 29071-Málaga, Spain; and
  3. cInstitut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat de Valencia, 22085-Paterna, Spain
  1. Edited by David Pilbeam, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved October 21, 2011 (received for review June 26, 2011)

Abstract

Global climate change is having profound impacts on the natural world. However, climate influence on faunal dynamics at macroevolutionary scales remains poorly understood. In this paper we investigate the influence of climate over deep time on the diversity patterns of Cenozoic North American mammals. We use factor analysis to identify temporally correlated assemblages of taxa, or major evolutionary faunas that we can then study in relation to climatic change over the past 65?million years. These taxa can be grouped into six consecutive faunal associations that show some correspondence with the qualitative mammalian chronofaunas of previous workers. We also show that the diversity pattern of most of these chronofaunas can be correlated with the stacked deep-sea benthic foraminiferal oxygen isotope (δ18O) curve, which strongly suggests climatic forcing of faunal dynamics over a large macroevolutionary timescale. This study demonstrates the profound influence of climate on the diversity patterns of North American terrestrial mammals over the Cenozoic.

Footnotes

  • ?1To whom correspondence may be addressed. E-mail: francisco_figueirido_castillo{at}brown.edu.
  • Author contributions: B.F., C.M.J., M.D.R., and P.P. designed research; B.F., C.M.J., J.A.P.-C., and P.P. performed research; B.F., J.A.P.-C., and M.D.R. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; B.F., C.M.J., J.A.P.-C., M.D.R., and P.P. analyzed data; and B.F., C.M.J., and P.P. wrote the paper.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

  • This article contains supporting information online at www.danielhellerman.com/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1073/pnas.1110246108/-/DCSupplemental.

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