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Publication - Professor Christine Janis

    Twenty-million-year relationship between mammalian diversity and primary productivity


    Fritz, S, Eronen, J, Schnitzler, J, Hof, C, Janis, CM, Mulch, A, Bohning-Gaese, K & Graham, C, 2016, ‘Twenty-million-year relationship between mammalian diversity and primary productivity’. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 113., pp. 10908-10913


    At global and regional scales, primary productivity strongly correlates
    with richness patterns of extant animals across space,
    suggesting that resource availability and
    climatic conditions drive patterns of diversity. However, the existence
    and consistency
    of such diversity–productivity
    relationships through geological history is unclear. Here we provide a
    comprehensive quantitative
    test of the diversity–productivity
    relationship for terrestrial large mammals through time across broad
    temporal and spatial
    scales. We combine >14,000 occurrences
    for 690 fossil genera through the Neogene (23–1.8 Mya) with regional
    estimates of primary
    productivity from fossil plant communities
    in North America and Europe. We show a significant positive
    relationship through the 20-million-year
    record, providing evidence on unprecedented spatial and temporal scales
    that this
    relationship is a general pattern in the
    ecology and paleo-ecology of our planet. Further, we discover that genus
    today does not match the fossil
    relationship, suggesting that a combination of human impacts and
    Pleistocene climate variability
    has modified the 20-million-year
    ecological relationship by strongly reducing primary productivity and
    driving many mammalian
    species into decline or to extinction.

    Full details in the University publications repository