Data from: A global phylogeny of turtles reveals a burst of climate-associated diversification on continental margins
Thomson, Robert; Spinks, Phillip; Shaffer, H. Bradley (2021), Data from: A global phylogeny of turtles reveals a burst of climate-associated diversification on continental margins, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jh9w0vt8w
Living turtles are characterized by extraordinarily low species diversity given their age. The clade’s extensive fossil record indicates that climate and biogeography may have played important roles in determining their diversity. We investigated this hypothesis by collecting a molecular dataset for 591 individual turtles that together represent 80% of all turtle species, including representatives of all families and 98% of genera, and used it to jointly estimate phylogeny and divergence times. We found that the turtle tree is characterized by relatively constant diversification (speciation minus extinction) punctuated by a single threefold increase. We also found that this shift is temporally and geographically associated with newly emerged continental margins that appeared during the Eocene-Oligocene transition about 30 million years before present. In apparent contrast, the fossil record from this time period contains evidence for a major, but regional, extinction event. These seemingly discordant findings appear to be driven by a common global process: Global cooling and drying at the time of the Eocene Oligocene transition. This climatic shift led to aridification that drove extinctions in important fossil-bearing areas, while simultaneously exposing new continental margin habitat that subsequently allowed for a burst of speciation associated with these newly exploitable ecological opportunities.
National Science Foundation, Award: DEB0817042