• Onshore–offshore transect;
  • palaeoecology;
  • palaeocommunities;
  • sponges;
  • tectonism;
  • volcanism

Hypotheses about the causes of biodiversification during the Ordovician have been focused in three main areas: tectonic activity and nutrient supply, palaeogeography, and ecological escalation. There is as yet no consensus on mechanisms, and it is unclear whether it is better to study the patterns at local or regional scales. By applying ecological knowledge to the available palaeontological information, it can be shown that neither tectonic nor palaeogeographic effects could account for the permanence of the diversity rise, in the absence of elements of ecological escalation. However, it may be possible to identify trigger mechanisms resulting in enhanced speciation or reduced extinction. Areas of local diversity increase should be distinguished from speciation centres. An ongoing study of the Middle Ordovician Builth-Llandrindod Inlier of central Wales, conducted over 10 years, has identified elements of all three of the above categories of causal mechanisms affecting local diversity. This implies that the patterns of causal relationship and diversification are complex even at very local scales, and at this stage we should not anticipate a clear correlation of global diversity with any single factor. More data are needed from small-scale but intensive studies before we can generalize about the causal mechanisms of the Ordovician Radiation.