Non-equilibrium rate heterogeneity explains fat-tailed fluctuations in Phanerozoic biodiversity

Fluctuations in biodiversity, both large and small, are pervasive through the fossil record, yet we do not understand the processes generating them. Here we use a novel extension of theory from non-equilibrium statistical physics to show that three universal properties of macroevolution--(i) heterogeneity of diversification rates between taxa, likely driven by (ii) niche conservatism and (iii) punctuated adaptive radiation--are sufficient to explain the previously unaccounted for fat-tailed form of fluctuations in diversity through the Phanerozoic... (read more)

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