Habitat tracking, stasis and survival in Neogene large mammals
1Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università Federico II, Largo San Marcellino 10, 80138 Napoli, Italy
2Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e Funzionale, Università Federico II, via Cinthia 4-Monte Sant'Angelo, 80126 Napoli, Italy
*Author for correspondence (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Species response to environmental change may vary from adaptation to the new conditions, to dispersal towards territories with better ecological settings (known as habitat tracking), and to extinction. A phylogenetically explicit analysis of habitat tracking in Caenozoic large mammals shows that species moving over longer distances during their existence survived longer. By partitioning the fossil record into equal time intervals, we showed that the longest distance was preferentially covered just before extinction. This supports the idea that habitat tracking is a key reaction to environmental change, and confirms that tracking causally prolongs species survival. Species covering longer distances also have morphologically less variable cheek teeth. Given the tight relationship between cheek teeth form and habitat selection in large mammals, this supports the well-known, yet little tested, idea that habitat tracking bolsters morphological stasis.
habitat tracking, extinction, morphological stasis, geographical range size
Received June 16, 2011.
Accepted July 27, 2011.
This journal is © 2011 The Royal Society