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Area, Continental Drift and Mammalian Diversity

Karl W. Flessa
Paleobiology
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Spring, 1975), pp. 189-194
Published by: Paleontological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2400272
Page Count: 6
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Area, Continental Drift and Mammalian Diversity
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Abstract

Mammalian generic, familial, and ordinal diversities correlate significantly with continental area. The area effect is similar in form to that shown for true islands: S = kAz, where S is the diversity, A is the area, and k and z are fitted constants. For mammalian genera and continental area, z equals 0.33, for families, z equals 0.23, and for orders, z equals 0.13. The area effect permits quantitative modeling of extinction due to biotic competition between previously isolated faunas. The Late Cenozoic extinction of North and South American mammalian faunas following the rise of the Panamanian land bridge is overestimated by seven families. The overestimate may result from assumptions of complete biotic interchange and universal competition. The role of plate tectonics in regulating diversity may be extensively modified by regional environmental conditions.

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