• Growth rate, extinction and survival amongst late Cenozoic bivalves of the North Atlantic

      Johnson, Andrew L. A.; Harper, Elizabeth M.; Clarke, Abigail; Featherstone, Aaron C.; Heywood, Daniel J.; Richardson, Kathryn E.; Spink, Jack O.; Thornton, Luke A.H.; University of Derby (Taylor & Francis, 2019-09-12)
      Late Cenozoic bivalve extinction in the North Atlantic and adjacent areas has been attributed to environmental change (declines in temperature and primary production). Within scallops and oysters—bivalve groups with a high growth rate—certain taxa which grew exceptionally fast became extinct, while others which grew slower survived. The taxa which grew exceptionally fast would have obtained protection from predators thereby, so their extinction may have been due to the detrimental effect of environmental change on growth rate and ability to avoid predation, rather than environmental change per se. We investigated some glycymeridid and carditid bivalves—groups with a much lower growth rate than scallops and oysters—to see whether extinct forms from the late Cenozoic of the North Atlantic grew faster than extant forms, and hence whether their extinction may also have been mediated by increased mortality due to predation. Growth rate was determined from the cumulative width of annual increments in the hinge area; measurements were scaled up to overall shell size for the purposes of comparison with data from living species. Growth of the extinct glycymeridid Glycymeris subovata was at about the same rate as the slowest-growing living glycymeridid and much slower than in late Cenozoic samples of extant G. americana, in which growth was at about the same rate as the fastest-growing living glycymeridid. Growth of extinct G. obovata was also slower than G. americana, and that of the extinct carditid Cardites squamulosa ampla similarly slow (evidently slower than in the one living carditid species for which data are available). These findings indicate that within bivalve groups whose growth is much slower than scallops and oysters, extinction or survival of taxa through the late Cenozoic was not influenced by whether they were relatively fast or slow growers. By implication, environmental change acted directly to cause extinctions in slow-growing groups, rather than by increasing susceptibility to predation.