Biogeography of Recently Extinct Marine Species: Implications for Conservation



At least fifteen marine and coastal animal species have become extinct since the end of the Pleistocene. Analyses of the number of marine biogeographical provinces occupied by these species show that, contrary to the prevailing view that extinction is usually associated with a small range, at least five species (33%) had large ranges encompassing parts of two or more provinces. At least eight species occurred in areas that served as geographical refuges for taxa during the Pliocene and early Pleistocene. These refuges, in which primary planktonic productivity is generally very high, include the northwestern Atlantic and North Pacific. Extinctions in the northwestern Atlantic (four species) may be partly responsible for the subsequent success of human-introduced species in subtidal and open-coast intertidal habitats. Regions of high productivity deserve priority among marine areas to be protected from overexploitation and habitat destruction.


Se sabe que desde el año 1600 D.C. por lo menos trece especies y subespecies marinas y costeras de animales se extinguieron. Por lo menos cinco de estas especies tenían distribuciones que abarcaban porciones de dos o más provincias biogeográficas, lo cual se opone a la concepción prevalente de que la extinción está asociada con una distribución geográfica reducida. Siete o más especies habitaron en áreas que sirvieron como refugios geográficos para taxones durante el Plioceno y Pleistoceno temprano. Estos refugios, en los cuales la productividad primaria del plancton es generalente muy alta, merecen tener prioridad sobre otras regiones a ser protegidas.