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Diverse bilaterian clades emerged apparently within a few million years during the early Cambrian, and various environmental, developmental, and ecological causes have been proposed to explain this abrupt appearance. A compilation of the patterns of fossil and molecular diversification, comparative developmental data, and information on ecological feeding(More)
Although mass extinctions probably account for the disappearance of less than 5% of all extinct species, the evolutionary opportunities they have created have had a disproportionate effect on the history of life. Theoretical considerations and simulations have suggested that the empty niches created by a mass extinction should refill rapidly after(More)
Comparative developmental evidence indicates that reorganizations in developmental gene regulatory networks (GRNs) underlie evolutionary changes in animal morphology, including body plans. We argue here that the nature of the evolutionary alterations that arise from regulatory changes depends on the hierarchical position of the change within a GRN. This(More)
A rich body of empirically grounded theory has developed about food webs--the networks of feeding relationships among species within habitats. However, detailed food-web data and analyses are lacking for ancient ecosystems, largely because of the low resolution of taxa coupled with uncertain and incomplete information about feeding interactions. These(More)
Current plant and animal diversity preserves at most 1-2% of the species that have existed over the past 600 million years. But understanding the evolutionary impact of these extinctions requires a variety of metrics. The traditional measurement is loss of taxa (species or a higher category) but in the absence of phylogenetic information it is difficult to(More)
Biotic recoveries following mass extinctions are characterized by a process in which whole ecologies are reconstructed from low-diversity systems, often characterized by opportunistic groups. The recovery process provides an unexpected window to ecosystem dynamics. In many aspects, recovery is very similar to ecological succession, but important differences(More)
Organismal modifications to their physical and chemical environment play a significant role in structuring many modern ecosystems, and experimental evidence suggests that such behavior can increase diversity. Despite the important role such activities play in connecting ecology and evolution, less is known of the macroevolutionary impact of such influences,(More)