Research Article

Out of the Tropics: Evolutionary Dynamics of the Latitudinal Diversity Gradient

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Science  06 Oct 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5796, pp. 102-106
DOI: 10.1126/science.1130880

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The evolutionary dynamics underlying the latitudinal gradient in biodiversity have been controversial for over a century. Using a spatially explicit approach that incorporates not only origination and extinction but immigration, a global analysis of genera and subgenera of marine bivalves over the past 11 million years supports an “out of the tropics” model, in which taxa preferentially originate in the tropics and expand toward the poles without losing their tropical presence. The tropics are thus both a cradle and a museum of biodversity, contrary to the conceptual dichotomy dominant since 1974; a tropical diversity crisis would thus have profound evolutionary effects at all latitudes.

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