Hyperbolic growth of marine and continental biodiversity through the Phanerozoic and community evolution

Volume 69, N 3. 2008 pp. 175–194

A. V. Markov1, A. V. Korotayev2

1 Paleontological Institute, RAS 117997 Moscow, ul. Profsoyuznaya, 123
e-mail: markov_a@inbox.ru
2 Russian State Humanitarian University
125993 Moscow, Miusskaya plosh., 6
e-mail: akorotayev@mail.ru

Among diverse models that are used to describe and interpret the changes in global biodiversity through the Phanerozoic, the exponential and logistic models (traditionally used in population biology) are the most popular. As we have recently demonstrated (Markov, Korotayev, 2007), the growth of the Phanerozoic marine biodiversity at genus level correlates better with the hyperbolic model (widely used in demography and macro sociology). Here we show that the hyperbolic model is also applicable to the Phanerozoic continental biota at genus and family levels, and to the marine biota at species, genus, and family levels. There are many common features in the evolutionary dynamics of the marine and continental biotas that imply similarity and common nature of the factors and mechanisms underlying the hyperbolic growth. Both marine and continental biotas are characterized by continuous growth of the mean longevity of taxa, by decreasing extinction and origination rates, by similar pattern of replacement of dominant groups, by stepwise accumulation of evolutionary stable, adaptable and "physiologically buffered" taxa with effective mechanisms of parental care, protection of early developmental stages, etc. At the beginning of the development of continental biota, the observed taxonomic diversity was substantially lower than that predicted by the hyperbolic model. We suggest that this is due, firstly, to the fact that, during the earliest stages of the continental biota evolution, the groups that are not preserved in the fossil record (such as soil bacteria, unicellular algae, lichens, etc.) played a fundamental role, and secondly, to the fact that the continental biota initially formed as a marginal portion of the marine biota, rather than a separate system. The hyperbolic dynamics is most prominent when both marine and continental biotas are considered together. This fact can be interpreted as a proof of the integrated nature of the biosphere. In the macrosociological models, the hyperbolic pattern of the world population growth arises from a non-linear second-order positive feedback between the demographic growth and technological development (more people — more potential inventors — faster technological growth — the carrying capacity of the Earth grows faster — faster population growth — more people — more potential inventors, and so on). Based on the analogy with macrosociological models and diverse paleontological data, we suggest that the hyperbolic character of biodiversity growth can be similarly accounted for by a non-linear second-order positive feedback between the diversity growth and community structure complexity. The feedback can work via two parallel mechanisms: 1) decreasing extinction rate (more taxa — higher alpha diversity, or mean number of taxa in a community — communities become more complex and stable — extinction rate decreases — more taxa, and so on) and 2) increasing origination rate (new taxa facilitate niche construction; newly formed niches can be occupied by the next "generation" of taxa). The latter possibility makes the mechanisms underlying the hyperbolic growth of biodiversity and human population even more similar, because the total ecospace of the biota is analogous to the "carrying capacity of the Earth" in demography. As far as new species can increase ecospace and facilitate opportunities for additional species entering the community, they are analogous to the "inventors" of the demographic models whose inventions increase the carrying capacity of the Earth. The hyperbolic growth of the Phanerozoic biodiverstiy suggests that "cooperative" interactions between taxa can play an important role in evolution, along with generally accepted competitive interactions. Due to this "cooperation", the evolution of biodiversity acquires some features of a self-accelerating process. Macroevolutionary "cooperation" reveals itself in: 1) increasing stability of communities that arises from alpha diversity growth; 2) ability of species to facilitate opportunities for additional species entering the community.

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