Physical and environmental drivers of Paleozoic tetrapod dispersal across Pangaea

Nat Commun. 2018 Dec 6;9(1):5216. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07623-x.


The Carboniferous and Permian were crucial intervals in the establishment of terrestrial ecosystems, which occurred alongside substantial environmental and climate changes throughout the globe, as well as the final assembly of the supercontinent of Pangaea. The influence of these changes on tetrapod biogeography is highly contentious, with some authors suggesting a cosmopolitan fauna resulting from a lack of barriers, and some identifying provincialism. Here we carry out a detailed historical biogeographic analysis of late Paleozoic tetrapods to study the patterns of dispersal and vicariance. A likelihood-based approach to infer ancestral areas is combined with stochastic mapping to assess rates of vicariance and dispersal. Both the late Carboniferous and the end-Guadalupian are characterised by a decrease in dispersal and a vicariance peak in amniotes and amphibians. The first of these shifts is attributed to orogenic activity, the second to increasing climate heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amphibians / classification
  • Amphibians / physiology*
  • Animal Distribution / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Climate
  • Climate Change
  • Environment*
  • Fossils*
  • Geological Phenomena
  • Phylogeography