Marine invertebrate migrations trace climate change over 450 million years

Journal article
(Original article)

Publication Details

Author(s): Reddin CJ, Kocsis Á, Kießling W
Journal: Global Ecology and Biogeography
Publication year: 2018
Volume: 27
Journal issue: 6
Pages range: 704-713
ISSN: 1466-822X
eISSN: 1466-8238



Poleward migration is a clear response of marine organisms to current global warming
but the generality and geographical uniformity of this response are unclear. Marine
fossils are expected to record the range shift responses of taxa and ecosystems to
past climate change. However, unequal sampling (natural and human) in time and space
biases the fossil record, restricting previous studies of ancient migrations to individual
taxa and events. We expect that temporal changes in the latitudinal distribution of
surviving taxa will reveal range shifts to trace global climate change.



Time period

Post‐Cambrian Phanerozoic aeon.

Major taxa studied

Well‐fossilized marine benthic invertebrates comprising stony corals, bivalves, gastropods,
brachiopods, trilobites and calcifying sponges.


We track deviations in the latitudinal distribution of range centres of age boundary
crossing taxa from the expected distribution, and compare responses across latitudes.
We build deviation time series, spanning hundreds of million years, from fossil occurrences
and test correlations with seawater temperature estimates derived from stable oxygen
isotopes of fossils.


Seawater temperature and latitudinal deviations from sampling are positively correlated
over the post‐Cambrian Phanerozoic. Simulations suggest that sampling patterns are
highly unlikely to drive this putative signal of range shifts. Systematically accounting
for known sampling issues strengthens this correlation, so that climate is capable
of explaining nearly a third of the variance in ancient latitudinal range shifts.
The relationship is stronger in low latitude taxa than higher latitude taxa, and in
warm ages than cool ages.

Main conclusions

Latitudinal range shifts occurred in concert with climate change throughout the post‐Cambrian
Phanerozoic. Low latitude taxa show the clearest climate‐migration signal through
time, corroborating predictions of their shift in a warming future.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Kießling, Wolfgang Prof. Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Paläoumwelt
Kocsis, Ádám Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Paläoumwelt
Reddin, Carl James
Lehrstuhl für Paläoumwelt

Research Fields

Climate & palaeoenvironment
Lehrstuhl für Geologie (Exogene Dynamik)
Climate and Resources
Research focus area of a faculty: Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät

How to cite

Reddin, C.J., Kocsis, Á., & Kießling, W. (2018). Marine invertebrate migrations trace climate change over 450 million years. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 27(6), 704-713.

Reddin, Carl James, Ádám Kocsis, and Wolfgang Kießling. "Marine invertebrate migrations trace climate change over 450 million years." Global Ecology and Biogeography 27.6 (2018): 704-713.


Last updated on 2019-04-01 at 19:10

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