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Does versatility as measured by geographic range, bathymetric range and morphological variability contribute to taxon longevity?


Lee Hsiang Liow, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066, Blindern, N-0316, Oslo, Norway E-mail:


Aim  This paper aims to examine the relationship between versatility as measured by geographic range, bathymetric range and morphological variability (species and subspecies richness and the occurrence of morphologically highly variable populations), and the geologic longevities of trachyleberidid ostracode species and genera, while accounting for sampling biases and other confounding factors.

Location  Global.

Methods  A large database of occurrence records of species of the family Trachyleberididae s.l. was analysed. The relationships between genus and species longevity and the above mentioned variables were examined singly and in concert. Re-analyses of subsets of data and rarefaction techniques were employed to account for sampling biases, while randomization was used to account for autocorrelation of variables.

Results  The mean number of occurrence records, and latitudinal and longitudinal ranges, were strongly and positively correlated with genus and species longevities. The number of bathymetric zones occupied by genera had no consistent bearing on their longevities, but species data subsets tended to indicate significant positive relationships between bathymetric range and longevities. Species richness was significantly and positively correlated with genus longevities. Species and genera with subspecies and species with high morphological variability all had significantly greater longevities. Genus-level characteristics can be explained largely by species-level characteristics, including longevity, latitudinal ranges and bathymetric ranges to a lesser degree. However, genus longevity was best explained by species richness and genus age, even for extinct genera, while species longevity was best explained by species latitudinal range.

Main conclusions  In spite of the incompleteness of the fossil record, we can control for biasing factors and still confidently draw the conclusion that both ecological and evolutionary versatility contribute to lineage longevity, beyond the shorter temporal observation windows available to most ecological studies.