Rarity in mass extinctions and the future of ecosystems

  title={Rarity in mass extinctions and the future of ecosystems},
  author={Pincelli M. Hull and Simon A. F. Darroch and Douglas H. Erwin},
The fossil record provides striking case studies of biodiversity loss and global ecosystem upheaval. Because of this, many studies have sought to assess the magnitude of the current biodiversity crisis relative to past crises—a task greatly complicated by the need to extrapolate extinction rates. Here we challenge this approach by showing that the rarity of previously abundant taxa may be more important than extinction in the cascade of events leading to global changes in the biosphere. Mass… 

Towards quantifying the mass extinction debt of the Anthropocene

  • C. SpaldingP. Hull
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B
  • 2021
The ultimate number of species destined for extinction today can be predicted by way of a quantitative appraisal of humanity's modification of ecosystems as recorded in sediments—that is, by comparing the authors' future rock record with that of the past.

Life in the Aftermath of Mass Extinctions

  • P. Hull
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Current Biology
  • 2015

Consequences of biodiversity loss diverge from expectation due to post-extinction compensatory responses

It is found that compensatory dynamics lead to trajectories of sediment mixing that diverge from those without compensation, and that the form, magnitude and variance of each probabilistic distribution is highly influenced by the type of compensation and the functional composition of surviving species.

Ecological Networks and Fluvial Corridors in Calabria (Southern Italy)

  • N. Cantasano
  • Environmental Science
    Journal of Biomedical Research & Environmental Sciences
  • 2021
The anthropic pressure on natural systems is the main cause for the present process of biodiversity loss in terrestrial biosphere [1]. Really, the human disturbance on Earth affects the 74.1% of

Evidence from South Africa for a protracted end-Permian extinction on land

A unique dataset comprising hundreds of precisely positioned tetrapod fossils is analyzed, identifying a protracted (∼1 Ma) extinction and the blooming of “disaster taxa” before the main extinction rather than in its aftermath as assumed previously, demonstrating that the effects of biotic crises vary prominently among Earth’s surface environments.

The Sixth Mass Extinction: fact, fiction or speculation?

Differences in extinction rates are reviewed according to realms: marine species face significant threats but, although previous mass extinctions were largely defined by marine invertebrates, there is no evidence that the marine biota has reached the same crisis as the non-marine biota, and island species have suffered far greater rates than continental ones.

The population sizes and global extinction risk of reef-building coral species at biogeographic scales.

The findings suggest that, while local depletions pose imminent threats that can have ecologically devastating impacts to coral reefs, the global extinction risk of most coral species is lower than previously estimated.

Past, present, and future mass extinctions

Ediacaran Extinction and Cambrian Explosion.




The end and the beginning: recoveries from mass extinctions.

  • D. Erwin
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Trends in ecology & evolution
  • 1998

Mammal Population Losses and the Extinction Crisis

Historic and present distributions of 173 declining mammal species from six continents are compared, finding that these species have collectively lost over 50% of their historic range area, mostly where human activities are intensive.

Phanerozoic Overview of Mass Extinction

Mass extinctions are episodes of accelerated extinction of variable magnitude that affect widespread taxa and cause at least temporary declines in their diversity. Although such episodes are often

Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?

Differences between fossil and modern data and the addition of recently available palaeontological information influence understanding of the current extinction crisis, and results confirm that current extinction rates are higher than would be expected from the fossil record.

Fifteen forms of biodiversity trend in the Anthropocene.

Extinctions in ancient and modern seas.

Paleontological baselines for evaluating extinction risk in the modern oceans

It is shown that over 23 million years, taxonomic membership and geographic range size consistently explain a large proportion of extinction risk variation in six major taxonomic groups and intrinsic risk provides a prehuman baseline for considering current threats to marine biodiversity.


▪ Abstract One of the greatest mass extinctions in Earth's history occurred at the end of the Cretaceous era, sixty-five million years (Myr) ago. Considerable evidence indicates that the impact of a

Historical baselines for large marine animals.

Comparing the Geological and Fossil Records: Implications for Biodiversity Studies

The past decade has witnessed a major revival in attempts to separate biodiversity signals from biases imposed by sampling and the architecture of the rock record. How large a problem this poses to