Breeding young as a survival strategy during earth’s greatest mass extinction

Botha-Brink, Jennifer and Codron, Daryl and Huttenlocker, Adam K. and Angielczyk, Kenneth D. and Ruta, Marcello (2016) Breeding young as a survival strategy during earth’s greatest mass extinction. Scientific Reports, 6 (24053). pp. 1-9. ISSN 2045-2322

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep24053

Documents
srep24053.pdf
[img]
[Download]
[img]
Preview
PDF
srep24053.pdf - Whole Document
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

1MB
Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Studies of the effects of mass extinctions on ancient ecosystems have focused on changes in taxic diversity, morphological disparity, abundance, behaviour and resource availability as key determinants of group survival. Crucially, the contribution of life history traits to survival during terrestrial mass extinctions has not been investigated, despite the critical role of such traits for population viability. We use bone microstructure and body size data to investigate the palaeoecological implications of changes in life history strategies in the therapsid forerunners of mammals before and after the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction (PTME), the most catastrophic crisis in Phanerozoic history. Our results are consistent with truncated development, shortened life expectancies, elevated mortality rates and higher extinction risks amongst post-extinction species. Various simulations of ecological dynamics indicate that an earlier onset of reproduction leading to shortened generation times could explain the persistence of therapsids in the unpredictable, resource-limited Early Triassic environments, and help explain observed body size distributions of some disaster taxa (e.g., Lystrosaurus). Our study accounts for differential survival in mammal ancestors after the PTME and provides a methodological framework for quantifying survival strategies in other vertebrates during major biotic crises.

Keywords:ecological modelling, evolutionary ecology, end-Permian mass extinction, therapsids, Lystrosaurus, growth, JCOpen
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C180 Ecology
C Biological Sciences > C170 Population Biology
C Biological Sciences > C142 Reproductive Biology
C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
F Physical Sciences > F641 Palaeontology
C Biological Sciences > C181 Biodiversity
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:22835
Deposited On:07 Apr 2016 15:45

Repository Staff Only: item control page