We investigate the association between geographic range and survival in Mesozoic marine animal genera. Previous work using data from the Paleobiology Database (paleobiodb.org) demonstrated greater survivorship overall among Phanerozoic genera that were widespread during their stage of first appearance, but this relationship did not hold during the Mesozoic. To explore this unexpected result, we consider geographic range in conjunction with temporal variation in survival and variation in survival among higher taxa. Because average range and average survival are negatively correlated among stages, for reasons that are still unclear, and because the data are heavily influenced by cephalopods, which include many wide-ranging and short-lived genera, the effect of geographic range on survival is obscured in the aggregate data. Thus, range is not a significant predictor of survival when data are analyzed in aggregate, but it does have a significant effect when variation in average range and average survival among stages and classes is taken into account. The best-fitting models combine range with both temporal and taxonomic heterogeneity as predictive factors. Moreover, when we take stage-to-stage variation into account, geographic range is an important predictor of survival within most classes. Cephalopod genera must be more widespread than genera in other classes for geographic range to significantly increase odds of survival, and factoring in survival heterogeneity of superfamilies further increases model fit, demonstrating a nested nature in the sensitivity of range and taxonomic aggregation.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2