The macroevolutionary effects of extinction derive from both intensity of taxonomic losses and selectivity of losses with respect to ecology, physiology and/or higher taxonomy. Increasingly, palaeontologists are using logistic regression to quantify extinction selectivity because the selectivity metric is independent of extinction intensity and multiple predictor variables can be assessed simultaneously. We illustrate the use of logistic regression with an analysis of physiological buffering capacity and extinction risk in the Phanerozoic marine fossil record. We propose the geometric mean of extinction intensity and selectivity as a metric for the influence of extinction events. The end-Permian mass extinction had the largest influence on the physiological composition of the fauna owing to its combination of high intensity and strong selectivity. In addition to providing a quantitative measure of influence to compare among past events, this approach provides an avenue for quantifying the risk posed by the emerging biodiversity crisis that goes beyond a simple projection of taxonomic losses.
An invited contribution to the special feature ‘Biology of extinction: inferring events, patterns and processes’.
- Received March 10, 2016.
- Accepted September 16, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.