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Diversity 2013, 5(2), 276-292;

Relaxation Time and the Problem of the Pleistocene

Department of Geology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-2501, USA
Received: 25 February 2013 / Revised: 4 April 2013 / Accepted: 9 April 2013 / Published: 15 April 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Biodiversity)
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Although changes in habitat area, driven by changes in sea level, have long been considered as a possible cause of marine diversity change in the Phanerozoic, the lack of Pleistocene extinction in the Californian Province has raised doubts, given the large and rapid sea-level changes during the Pleistocene. Neutral models of metacommunities presented here suggest that diversity responds rapidly to changes in habitat area, with relaxation times of a few hundred to a few thousand years. Relaxation time is controlled partly by metacommunity size, implying that different provinces or trophic levels might have measurably different responses to changes in habitable area. Geologically short relaxation times imply that metacommunities should be able to stay nearly in equilibrium with all but the most rapid changes in area. A simulation of the Californian Province during the Pleistocene confirms this, with the longest lags in diversity approaching 20 kyr. The apparent lack of Pleistocene extinction in the Californian Province likely results from the difficulty of sampling rare species, coupled with repopulation from adjacent deep-water or warm-water regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: marine; sea level; relaxation time; Pleistocene; neutral theory marine; sea level; relaxation time; Pleistocene; neutral theory

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Holland, S.M. Relaxation Time and the Problem of the Pleistocene. Diversity 2013, 5, 276-292.

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