Physical drivers of evolution and the history of the marine tetrapod fauna of Angola

Research output: Other contribution


Modern marine species populations are often evaluated in terms of bottom-up, resource limited structure, or top-down, predator controlled structure. In a larger timeframe, investiga- tion of physical drivers in marine tetrapod evolution relies on the recognition of patterns and the correlation in timing of physical events with biotic change. However, it has been dem- onstrated through the study of fossil cetaceans that a broader deep-time perspective within a top-down or bottom-up framework is informative. Here we examine the fossil record of &UHWDFHRXV PDULQH WHWUDSRGV LQ $QJROD WR GLVFHUQ SDWWHUQV WKDW PD\ UHÀHFW SK\VLFDO GULYHUV RI evolution, and that are also relevant to population structure. In modern marine ecosystems, GLVWULEXWLRQ SDWWHUQV UHÀHFWLQJ SULPDU\ SURGXFWLYLW\ DUH LQGLFDWLYH RI ERWWRP?XS FRQWURO? ,Q the fossil record, productivity-controlled distribution patterns can also be perceived. Physi- cal parameters resulting in environmental stability, sea-level change, oceanic anoxic events, paleoclimate, and paleogeography are examined in comparison with taxonomic diversity and life history patterns. Mosasaurs originated during a time of high global temperatures and shallow temperature gradients. As upper-trophic-level species of modest size and plesiopedal limb structure (capable of terrestrial locomotion), early mosasaurs were subject to both top- down and bottom up pressures. The attainment of larger size coupled with emigration and biogeographic distribution in areas of high primary productivity, and niche differentiation VKRZQ E\ 13C values, indicate bottom-up pressures. Productivity along the African coast since the formation of the Atlantic Ocean facilitated the co-occurrence of diverse marine tetrapods through time, and has culminated today in the Benguela large marine ecosystem. Just as the current Benguela ecosystem has tetrapod species populations dominated by both bottom-up (cetaceans) and top-down strategies (sea birds and pinnipeds), so too did the Cre- taceous community, with mosasaurs and plesiosaurs having predominantly bottom-up popu- lation structure, while sea turtles and pterosaurs were more subject to top-down pressures.
Original languageUnknown
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

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