Evolution of neogene mammals in Eurasia: Environmental forcing and biotic interactions

Mikael Fortelius, Jussi T. Eronen, Ferhat Kaya, Hui Tang, Pasquale Raia, Kai Puolamäki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


The relative weights of physical forcing and biotic interaction as drivers of evolutionary change have been debated in evolutionary theory. The recent finding that species, genera, clades, and chronofaunas all appear to exhibit a symmetrical pattern of waxing and waning lends support to the view that biotic interactions shape the history of life. Yet, there is similarly abundant evidence that these primary units of biological evolution arise and wane in coincidence with major climatic change. We review these patterns and the process-level explanations offered for them. We also propose a tentative synthesis, characterized by interdependence between physical forcing and biotic interactions. We suggest that species with evolutionary novelties arise predominantly in "species factories" that develop under harsh environmental conditions, under dominant physical forcing, whereas exceptionally mild environments give rise to "oases in the desert," characterized by strong competition and survival of relics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-604
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • Community dynamics
  • Computational methods
  • Ecometrics
  • Paleobiology
  • Precipitation


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