Past and future decline of tropical pelagic biodiversity

Yasuhara M, Wei CL, Kucera M, Costello MJ, Tittensor DP, Kießling W, Bonebrake TC, Tabor CR, Feng R, Baselga A, Kretschmer K, Kusumoto B, Kubota Y (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 117

Pages Range: 12891-12896

Journal Issue: 23

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1916923117


A major research question concerning global pelagic biodiversity remains unanswered: when did the apparent tropical biodiversity depression (i.e., bimodality of latitudinal diversity gradient [LDG]) begin? The bimodal LDG may be a consequence of recent ocean warming or of deep-time evolutionary speciation and extinction processes. Using rich fossil datasets of planktonic foraminifers, we show here that a unimodal (or only weakly bimodal) diversity gradient, with a plateau in the tropics, occurred during the last ice age and has since then developed into a bimodal gradient through species distribution shifts driven by postglacial ocean warming. The bimodal LDG likely emerged before the Anthropocene and industrialization, and perhaps ∼15,000 y ago, indicating a strong environmental control of tropical diversity even before the start of anthropogenic warming. However, our model projections suggest that future anthropogenic warming further diminishes tropical pelagic diversity to a level not seen in millions of years.

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Yasuhara, M., Wei, C.L., Kucera, M., Costello, M.J., Tittensor, D.P., Kießling, W.,... Kubota, Y. (2020). Past and future decline of tropical pelagic biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(23), 12891-12896.


Yasuhara, Moriaki, et al. "Past and future decline of tropical pelagic biodiversity." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117.23 (2020): 12891-12896.

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