The biogeographical imprint of mass extinctions.Proc Biol Sci. 2018 05 16; 285(1878)PB
Mass extinctions are defined by extinction rates significantly above background levels and have had substantial consequences for the evolution of life. Geographically selective extinctions, subsequent originations and species redistributions may have changed global biogeographical structure, but quantification of this change is lacking. In order to assess quantitatively the biogeographical impact of mass extinctions, we outline time-traceable bioregions for benthic marine species across the Phanerozoic using a compositional network. Mass extinction events are visually recognizable in the geographical depiction of bioregions. The end-Permian extinction stands out with a severe reduction of provinciality. Time series of biogeographical turnover represent a novel aspect of the analysis of mass extinctions, confirming concentration of changes in the geographical distribution of benthic marine life.