Biogeographic and bathymetric determinants of brachiopod extinction and survival during the Late Ordovician mass extinction

The Late Ordovician mass extinction (LOME) coincided with dramatic climate changes, but there are numerous ways in which these changes could have driven marine extinctions. We use a palaeobiogeographic database of rhynchonelliform brachiopods to examine the selectivity of Late Ordovician–Early Silurian genus extinctions and evaluate which extinction drivers are best supported by the data. The first (latest Katian) pulse of the LOME preferentially affected genera restricted to deeper waters or to relatively narrow (less than 35°) palaeolatitudinal ranges. This pattern is only observed in the latest Katian, suggesting that it reflects drivers unique to this interval. Extinction of exclusively deeper-water genera implies that changes in water mass properties such as dissolved oxygen content played an important role. Extinction of genera with narrow latitudinal ranges suggests that interactions between shifting climate zones and palaeobiogeography may also have been important. We test the latter hypothesis by estimating whether each genus would have been able to track habitats within its thermal tolerance range during the greenhouse–icehouse climate transition. Models including these estimates are favoured over alternative models. We argue that the LOME, long regarded as non-selective, is highly selective along biogeographic and bathymetric axes that are not closely correlated with taxonomic identity.