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Evaluation of the third law of paleobiology in large herbivorous mammals on different continents

Grant number: 23/08774-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2023
Effective date (End): October 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal Investigator:Tiago Bosisio Quental
Grantee:Samuel Augusto Aguiar dos Anjos
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:21/06780-4 - The deep time drivers of biodiversity at the local, regional and global scales, AP.BTA.JP2


One of the goals of evolutionary biology is to understand how diversity varies over time, space and among lineages. On a global scale, species richness is the result of the balance between speciation and extinction rates, and on a more restricted spatial scale, also by the immigration rate. Previous works suggest the existence of a strong correlation between the average rates of speciation and extinction, where groups with higher speciation rates are those with higher extinction rates. This pattern was elevated to the status of "Third law of paleobiology", and despite its strength (e.g. r= 0.973, Pearson correlation), the description of this pattern, and therefore its status of "law", presents a series of methodological/conceptual limitations. In particular, analyses made at supra-specific levels that did not adequately take into account a possible "mathematical necessity" of the association between the rates. The goal of this project is to evaluate the third law, taking explicitly into account the limitations of previous works. To investigate this issue we will use data from the fossil record of large herbivorous mammals. We will use a hierarchical Bayesian approach, comparative methods, the phylogenies of the groups, and different time windows corresponding to different dynamics of diversification (radiation, equilibrium and decline of diversity). The hypothesis that there is a correlation between the rates will be tested individually for these different time windows on a regional scale, taking into account the effect of speciation and immigration.

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