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Data from: Graptoloid diversity and disparity became decoupled during the Ordovician mass extinction


Bapst, David W. et al. (2012), Data from: Graptoloid diversity and disparity became decoupled during the Ordovician mass extinction, Dryad, Dataset,


The morphological study of extinct taxa allows for analysis of a diverse set of macroevolutionary hypotheses, including testing for change in the magnitude of morphological divergence, extinction selectivity on form, and the ecological context of radiations. Late Ordovician graptoloids experienced a phylogenetic bottleneck at the Hirnantian mass extinction (~445 Ma), when a major clade of graptoloids was driven to extinction while another clade simultaneously radiated. In this study, we developed a dataset of 49 ecologically-relevant characters for 183 species with which we tested two main hypotheses: (a) could the biased survival of one graptoloid clade over another have resulted from morphological selectivity alone and (b) are the temporal patterns of morphological disparity and innovation during the recovery consistent with an interpretation as an adaptive radiation resulting from ecological release? We find that a general model of morphological selectivity has a low probability of producing the observed pattern of taxonomic selectivity. Selectivity on non-morphological variation, such as geographic range or different physiological tolerances, is more likely the cause. Contrary to predictions from theory on adaptive radiations and ecological speciation, changes in disparity and species richness are uncoupled. We also find that the early recovery is unexpectedly characterized by relatively low morphological disparity and innovation, despite also being an interval of elevated speciation. As it is necessary to invoke factors other than ecology to explain the graptoloid recovery, more complex models may be needed to explain recovery dynamics after mass extinctions.

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