University of Oulu

García-Girón, J., Chiarenza, A. A., Alahuhta, J., DeMar, D. G., Heino, J., Mannion, P. D., Williamson, T. E., Wilson Mantilla, G. P., & Brusatte, S. L. (2022). Shifts in food webs and niche stability shaped survivorship and extinction at the end-Cretaceous. Science Advances, 8(49), eadd5040.

Shifts in food webs and niche stability shaped survivorship and extinction at the end-Cretaceous

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Author: García-Girón, Jorge1,2; Chiarenza, Alfio Alessandro3; Alahuhta, Janne1;
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
2Departmentof Biodiversity and Environmental Management, University of León, Campus de Vegazana, 24007 León, Spain
3Departamentode Ecoloxíae Bioloxía Animal, Grupode Ecología Animal, Centro de Investigacion Mariña, Universidadede Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain
4Department of Biology, University of Washington and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Seattle, WA 98105, USA
5Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560,USA
6Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, WC1E6BT London, UK
7New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque, NM 87104, USA
8School of GeoSciences, Grant Institute,University of Edinburgh, James Hutton Road, EH9 3FE Edinburgh, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-01-03


It has long been debated why groups such as non-avian dinosaurs became extinct whereas mammals and other lineages survived the Cretaceous/Paleogene mass extinction 66 million years ago. We used Markov networks, ecological niche partitioning, and Earth System models to reconstruct North American food webs and simulate ecospace occupancy before and after the extinction event. We find a shift in latest Cretaceous dinosaur faunas, as medium-sized species counterbalanced a loss of megaherbivores, but dinosaur niches were otherwise stable and static, potentially contributing to their demise. Smaller vertebrates, including mammals, followed a consistent trajectory of increasing trophic impact and relaxation of niche limits beginning in the latest Cretaceous and continuing after the mass extinction. Mammals did not simply proliferate after the extinction event; rather, their earlier ecological diversification might have helped them survive.

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Series: Science advances
ISSN: 2375-2548
ISSN-E: 2375-2548
ISSN-L: 2375-2548
Volume: 8
Issue: 49
Article number: eadd5040
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.add5040
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Academy of Finland supported J.G.-G., J.H. (grant no. 331957), and J.A. (grant no. 322652). J.G.-G.’s contribution was also funded by the European Union Next Generation EU/PRTR (grant no. AG325). S.L.B. and A.A.C. were supported through a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (grant nos. 756226 and 947921, respectively). A.A.C. was also funded through a Juan de la Cierva Formación 2020 Fellowship funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation from the European Union Next Generation EU/PRTR. D.G.D. and G.P.W.M. were supported by the David B. Jones Foundation and the Myhrvold and Havranek Charitable Family Fund. P.D.M.’s contribution was funded through a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (grant no. UF160216) and a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant (grant no. RPG-2021-202). T.E.W. and S.L.B. were also supported by the National Science Foundation (grant nos. EAR 1325544 and DEB 1654952).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 322652
Detailed Information: 322652 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).