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Data from: Victims of ancient hyperthermal events herald the fates of marine clades and traits under global warming

Cite this dataset

Reddin, Carl; Kocsis, Ádám; Aberhan, Martin; Kiessling, Wolfgang (2020). Data from: Victims of ancient hyperthermal events herald the fates of marine clades and traits under global warming [Dataset]. Dryad.


Organismic groups vary non-randomly in their vulnerability to extinction. However, it is unclear whether the same groups are consistently vulnerable, regardless of the dominant extinction drivers, or whether certain drivers have their own distinctive and predictable victims. Given the challenges presented by anthropogenic global warming, we focus on changes in extinction selectivity trends during ancient hyperthermal events: geologically rapid episodes of global warming. Focusing on the fossil record of the last 300 million years, we identify clades and traits of marine ectotherms that were more prone to extinction under the onset of six hyperthermal events than during other times. Hyperthermals enhanced the vulnerability of marine fauna that host photosymbionts, particularly zooxanthellate corals, the reef environments they provide, and genera with actively burrowing or swimming adult life-stages. The extinction risk of larger-sized fauna also increased relative to non-hyperthermal times, while genera with a poorly buffered internal physiology did not become more vulnerable on average during hyperthermals. Hyperthermal-vulnerable clades include rhynchonelliform brachiopods and bony fish, whereas resistant clades include cartilaginous fishes, and ostreid and venerid bivalves. These extinction responses in the geological past mirror modern responses of these groups to warming, including range shift magnitudes, population losses, and experimental performance under climate-related stressors. Accordingly, extinction mechanisms distinctive to rapid global warming may be indicated, including sensitivity to warming-induced seawater deoxygenation. In anticipation of modern warming-driven marine extinctions, the trends illustrated in the fossil record offer an expedient preview.


Data were downloaded from the Paleobiology Database on 25.05.2020. The R code for acquiring the basic results (i.e. Figure 1) are included. See Methods section in the full publication for description.

Body size data (file 'genus.sizes.ranges.rev.csv') are included from Payne & Heim (2020; Body size, sampling completeness, and extinction risk in the marine fossil record. Paleobiology, 46(1), 23–40).


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: AB 109/11-1

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: KI 806/16-1

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: KO 5382/2-1