Besides helping to identify species traits that are commonly linked to extinction risk, the fossil record may also be directly relevant for assessing the extinction risk of extant species. Standing geographical distribution or occupancy is a strong predictor of both recent and past extinction risk, but the role of changes in occupancy is less widely assessed. Here we demonstrate, based on the Cenozoic fossil record of marine species, that both occupancy and its temporal trajectory are significant determinants of risk. Based on extinct species we develop a model on the additive and interacting effects of occupancy and its temporal changes on extinction risk. We use this model to predict extinction risk of extant species. The predictions suggest a moderate risk for marine species on average. However, some species seem to be on a long-term decline and potentially at a latent extinction risk, which is not considered in current risk assessments.
An invited contribution to the special feature ‘Biology of extinction: inferring events, patterns and processes’.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3500361.
- Received September 25, 2015.
- Accepted September 22, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.