Environmental trends in extinction during the Paleozoic

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Science  02 Jan 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4784, pp. 64-66
DOI: 10.1126/science.11539724


Extinction intensities calculated from 505 Paleozoic marine assemblages divided among six environmental zones and 40 stratigraphic intervals indicate that whole communities exhibit increasing extinction offshore but that genera within individual taxonomic classes tend to have their highest extinction onshore. The offshore trend at the community level results from a concentration of genera in classes with low characteristic extinction rates in nearshore environments. This finding is consistent with the ecologic expectation that organisms inhabiting unpredictably fluctuating environments should suffer more extinction than counterparts living under more predictably equitable conditions.