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Diversity-dependent speciation and extinction in hominins.

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The search for drivers of hominin speciation and extinction has tended to focus on the impact of climate change. Far less attention has been paid to the role of interspecific competition. However, research across vertebrates more broadly has shown that both processes are often correlated with species diversity, suggesting an important role for interspecific competition. Here we ask whether hominin speciation and extinction conform to the expected patterns of negative and positive diversity dependence, respectively. We estimate speciation and extinction rates from fossil occurrence data with preservation variability priors in a validated Bayesian framework and test whether these rates are correlated with species diversity. We supplement these analyses with calculations of speciation rate across a phylogeny, again testing whether these are correlated with diversity. Our results are consistent with clade-wide diversity limits that governed speciation in hominins overall but that were not quite reached by the Australopithecus and Paranthropus subclade before its extinction. Extinction was not correlated with species diversity within the Australopithecus and Paranthropus subclade or within hominins overall; this is concordant with climate playing a greater part in hominin extinction than speciation. By contrast, Homo is characterized by positively diversity-dependent speciation and negatively diversity-dependent extinction-both exceedingly rare patterns across all forms of life. The genus Homo expands the set of reported associations between diversity and macroevolution in vertebrates, underscoring that the relationship between diversity and macroevolution is complex. These results indicate an important, previously underappreciated and comparatively unusual role of biotic interactions in Homo macroevolution, and speciation in particular. The unusual and unexpected patterns of diversity dependence in Homo speciation and extinction may be a consequence of repeated Homo range expansions driven by interspecific competition and made possible by recurrent innovations in ecological strategies. Exploring how hominin macroevolution fits into the general vertebrate macroevolutionary landscape has the potential to offer new perspectives on longstanding questions in vertebrate evolution and shed new light on evolutionary processes within our own lineage.



31 Biological Sciences, 3103 Ecology

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Nat Ecol Evol

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC