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Hierarchical controls on extinction selectivity across the diplobathrid crinoid phylogeny

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2019

Selina R. Cole*
Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, New York10024, U.S.A.; and Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Post Office Box 37012, MRC 121, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012, U.S.A. E-mail:


Identifying correlates of extinction risk is important for understanding the underlying mechanisms driving differential rates of extinction and variability in the temporal durations of taxa. Increasingly, it is recognized that the effects of multiple, potentially interacting variables and phylogenetic relationships should be incorporated when studying extinction selectivity to account for covariation of traits and shared evolutionary history. Here, I explore a variety of biological and ecological controls on genus longevity in the global fossil record of diplobathrid crinoids by analyzing the combined effects of species richness, habitat preference, body size, filtration fan density, and food size selectivity. I employ a suite of taxic and phylogenetic approaches to (1) quantitatively compare and rank the relative effects of multiple factors on taxonomic longevity and (2) determine how phylogenetic comparative approaches alter interpretations of extinction selectivity.

I find controls on diplobathrid genus duration are hierarchically structured, where species richness is the primary predictor of duration, habitat is the secondary predictor, and combinations of ecological and biological traits are tertiary controls. Ecology plays an important but complex role in the generation of crinoid macroevolutionary patterns. Notably, tolerance of environmental heterogeneity promotes increased genus duration across diplobathrid crinoids, and the effects of traits related to feeding ecology vary depending on habitat lithology. Finally, I find accounting for phylogeny does not consistently decrease the significance of correlations between traits and genus duration, as is commonly expected. Instead, the strength of relationships between traits and duration may increase, decrease, or remain statistically similar, and both the magnitude and direction of these shifts are generally unpredictable. However, traits with strong correlations and/or moderately large effect sizes (Cohen's f2 > 0.15) under taxic approaches tend to remain qualitatively unchanged under phylogenetic approaches.

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