Abstract: Marine shelf diversity patterns correlate with macroecological features of basic importance that may play causal roles in macroevolution. We have investigated the global diversity pattern of living Bivalvia, which is dominated by the latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG), maintained by high tropical origination rates. Generic-level lineages expand poleward, chiefly through speciation, so that species richness within provinces and globally is positively correlated with generic geographical ranges. A gradient in diversity accommodation progressively lowers both immigration and speciation rates in higher latitudes. The LDG correlates with seasonality of trophic resources but not with area; tropical provinces are not diverse because they are large but because they are tropical. A similar dynamic evidently underlays Jurassic and Carboniferous LDGs. Larval developmental modes correlate with the LDG and thus with resource seasonality, with tropical dominance of planktotrophs offset by increasing nonplanktotrophy to poleward. The acquisition of planktotrophy in several early Palaeozoic clades indicates a change in macroecological relationships during Cambrian and Ordovician radiations.