Absence of general rules governing molluscan body-size response to climatic fluctuation during Cenozoic
Body size is a key factor in dictating the fate of interaction between an organism and its surrounding environment. A negative temperature-size relationship (TSR) has been suggested as one of the universal responses to climatic warming. It is also predicted that groups with narrow latitudinal range, tropical affinity and higher body size, would show higher sensitivity to climatic fluctuation. Moreover, because of the difference in thermal sensitivity, it is also expected that the response to climatic fluctuation would be different between epifaunal and infaunal groups. To confirm the generality of these relationship among marine families, we compiled the relationship between body-size and global temperature trends over Cenozoic using a database of marine benthic molluscs of class gastropoda and bivalvia resolved to temporal stages. We evaluated the dependence of climate induced body-size response to the existing size and latitudinal spread via correlating the first-difference correlation coefficient of temperature-size (ρ1st (size-temp)) with maximum size and latitudinal spread of family respectively. Cenozoic record of this highly diverse group does not show any signature of TSR for molluscan class or for any other regional, ecological groups during the past 66My long climatic fluctuation. We did not find any evidence supporting heightened response to climatic fluctuation in groups with limited latitudinal spread or with large body- size. The tropical species did not show significant difference in their body-size response in comparison to temperate species. It also shows lack of any difference in response between ecological groups of molluscs with varying substrate relationship and hence, refutes the predicted variation due to difference in thermal specialization. Although a negative correlation between maximum latitudinal spread and ρ1st (size-temp) is observed for infaunal families, it is not statistically significant. Our results highlight the limited validity of “universal rules” in explaining the climate induced morphological response of marine communities in deep time and underscores the complexity in generalizing the biotic outcome of future climatic fluctuation.
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