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From regional to total geographic ranges: testing the relationship in Recent bivalves

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 April 2016

David Jablonski
Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, 5734 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637
James W. Valentine
Department of Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106


Geographic range appears to be an important aspect of the biology of species, but ranges cannot be unambiguously determined from the fossil record: ancient species can rarely be traced to the full extent of their original geographic ranges, and some ancient provinces are far better characterized than others. Here we test the degree to which paleogeographic range data for species within ancient provinces can be used to estimate the relative magnitudes of total geographic ranges, focusing on the 212 living bivalve species of the Oregonian Province, a north-south (N-S) province of the northeastern Pacific shelf.

We break the total range of each species into its within-province and extraprovincial components. Nonparametric rank correlation tests and simple linear regressions yield highly significant correlations, both between within-province and total ranges (which are not independent variables) and between within-province and extraprovincial ranges. The strongest correlations are obtained when north-ranging species are excluded. These north-ranging species are thermally tolerant and have access to broad east-west (E-W) provinces, thus weakening the relation between their within-province and total ranges. On a coarser scale, we also found that the extraprovincial ranges of species with small within-province ranges (<650 km, ca. 25% of focal province) are significantly less than those for species with large within-province ranges (> 1950 km, ca. 75% of focal province). The significant correlations of within-province range with both total and extraprovincial ranges hold for species with within-province ranges >650 km, so caution is needed regarding species that extend into a focal province only a short distance from its edges. We conclude that within-province geographic range can generally be used to rank species by total geographic range and thus is an adequate proxy in most comparative studies of the paleobiologic consequences of range magnitudes.

Copyright © The Paleontological Society 

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