Historical and Future Ocean Ecosystems Infographics
Dr. McCauley at UCSB studies our historical impact on land ecosystems, to extrapolate what may be in store for ocean ecology — the risk of overcrowding, defaunation and mass extinctions. Published in Science magazine
Created for a Nature review article by Dr. Hull, Yale University, on how patterns of mass extinctions observed in the fossil record in can give key insights into what the future may bring. Fossil mass extinctions show that a species doesn't need to go extinct, it just needs to make them rare enough that they are highly unlikely to make into the fossil record. In other words, if the previously dominate species become rare, their fossils will appear to go extinct, other species rise to dominance by chance, and the ecosystem that follows will be unrecognizable by comparison.
As we imagine what a future reef may look like after mass extinctions of current ocean life, we look toward species which may stand a better chance of surviving ocean warming and acidification, filling the niches of coral and dependent species.