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Regional patterns of evolutionary turnover in Neogene coral reefs from the central Indo-West Pacific Ocean

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 07:04 authored by Bromfield, K, Pandolfi, JM
The Indo-Pacific is an area of intense ecological interest, not least because of the region’s rich biodiversity. Important insights into the origins, evolutionary history, and maintenance of Indo-Pacific reef faunas depend upon the analysis of faunal occurrences derived from detailed stratigraphic sections. We investigated Neogene origination and extinction patterns derived from a combination of new coral occurrences and previously published records from the central Indo-West Pacific Ocean (cIWP, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji). Two faunal turnover events were observed. In the first, an increase in generic richness of Scleractinia from the cIWP during the middle Miocene (17–14 Ma) coincided with both large-scale sea level fluctuations and the great Mid-Miocene collision event. We raise the hypothesis that Mid-Miocene origination was facilitated by habitat and population fragmentation associated with tectonism and sea level fall. The second, subsequent, turnover event was characterized by an overall lowering of generic diversity throughout the late Miocene and Pliocene (7–3 Ma), and was followed by a pronounced pulse of extinction at the Pliocene–Pleistocene boundary (~2.6 Ma). With the exception of the onset of Pleistocene sea-level cycles and the onset of northern hemisphere glaciation around 2.5 Ma, which might explain increased extinction during this time interval, there are no tectonic, eustatic, climatic or oceanographic events that neatly coincide with this second episode of Neogene coral taxonomic turnover. Our results reveal a total of 62 genera, including synonyms, from the Miocene to the Pleistocene. Neither episode of turnover among coral genera is exactly coincident with turnover in the Atlantic thus regional environmental change is found to drive Neogene reef dynamics.


Publication title

Evolutionary Ecology








School of Natural Sciences


Kluwer Academic Publ

Place of publication

Van Godewijckstraat 30, Dordrecht, Netherlands, 3311 Gz

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Copyright 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences

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