Out of the tropics, but how? Fossils, bridge species, and thermal ranges in the dynamics of the marine latitudinal diversity gradient

David Jablonski, Christina L. Belanger, Sarah K. Berke, Shan Huang, Andrew Z. Krug, Kaustuv Roy, Adam Tomasovych, James W. Valentine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


Latitudinal diversity gradients are underlain by complex combinations of origination, extinction, and shifts in geographic distribution and therefore are best analyzed by integrating paleontological and neontological data. The fossil record of marine bivalves shows, in three successive late Cenozoic time slices, that most clades (operationally here, genera) tend to originate in the tropics and then expand out of the tropics (OTT) to higher latitudes while retaining their tropical presence. This OTT pattern is robust both to assumptions on the preservation potential of taxa and to taxonomic revisions of extant and fossil species. Range expansion of clades may occur via "bridge species," which violate climate-niche conservatism to bridge the tropical-temperate boundary in most OTT genera. Substantial time lags (~5 Myr) between the origins of tropical clades and their entry into the temperate zone suggest that OTT events are rare on a per-clade basis. Clades with higher diversification rates within the tropics are the most likely to expand OTT and the most likely to produce multiple bridge species, suggesting that high speciation rates promote the OTT dynamic. Although expansion of thermal tolerances is key to the OTT dynamic, most latitudinally widespread species instead achieve their broad ranges by tracking widespread, spatially-uniform temperatures within the tropics (yielding, via the nonlinear relation between temperature and latitude, a pattern opposite to Rapoport's rule). This decoupling of range size and temperature tolerance may also explain the differing roles of species and clade ranges in buffering species from background and mass extinctions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10487-10494
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 25 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Out of the tropics, but how? Fossils, bridge species, and thermal ranges in the dynamics of the marine latitudinal diversity gradient'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this