Paleontological Patterns, Macroecological Dynamics and the Evolutionary Process

Abstract

Here we consider evolutionary patterns writ large in the fossil record. We argue that Darwin recognized but downgraded or de-emphasized several of these important patterns, and we consider what a renewed emphasis on these patterns can tell us about the evolutionary process. In particular, one of the key patterns we focus on is the role geographic isolation plays in fomenting evolutionary divergence; another one of the key patterns is stasis of species; the final pattern is turnovers, which exist at several hierarchical scales, including regional ecosystem replacement and pulses of speciation and extinction. We consider how each one of these patterns are related to the dynamic of changing ecological and environmental conditions over time and also investigate their significance in light of other concepts including punctuated equilibria and hierarchy theory. Ultimately, we tie each of these patterns into a framework involving macroecological dynamics and the important role environmental change plays in shaping evolution from the micro- to macroscale.

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Acknowledgments

BSL thanks NSF EAR-0518976, NASA Astrobiology NNG04GM41G, and a Self Faculty Award for supporting his research. All three of us are grateful to the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), University of California, Santa Barbara, for providing a proving ground for these ideas; they are listed in the bibliographic citation of Eldredge et al. (2005). Steve Thurston prepared the figures. We thank two anonymous reviewers, Benedikt Hallgrimsson, Neil Blackstone, and Warren Allmon for comments on an earlier version of this paper.

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Lieberman, B.S., Miller, W. & Eldredge, N. Paleontological Patterns, Macroecological Dynamics and the Evolutionary Process. Evol. Biol. 34, 28–48 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11692-007-9005-4

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Keywords

  • Darwin
  • Environment
  • Ecology
  • Species
  • Punctuated equilibria
  • Turnovers
  • Rates of speciation