Wolfgang Kiessling

Wolfgang Kiessling
Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg | FAU · Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

Prof. Dr.
Revisiting reefal responses to ancient hyperthermal events.

About

274
Publications
107,285
Reads
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13,090
Citations
Citations since 2017
101 Research Items
7159 Citations
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Introduction
My research targets ecological and evolutionary processes on large spatial scales and at time scales from decades to millions of years. Focusing on patterns in deep time, I aim to derive general principles of the interplay between earth system change and biodiversity dynamics in marine ecosystems.
Additional affiliations
October 2012 - present
Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
January 2009 - present
January 2007 - present

Publications

Publications (274)
Article
Full-text available
High biodiversity has been shown to enhance ecological stability on small spatial scales and over intervals of weeks to decades. It remains unclear, however, whether this diversity-stability relationship can be scaled up to regional scales, or to longer timescales. Without empirical validation at larger scales, the implications of the diversity-sta...
Article
Full-text available
Besides helping to identify species traits that are commonly linked to extinction risk, the fossil record may also be directly relevant for assessing the extinction risk of extant species. Standing geographical distribution or occupancy is a strong predictor of both recent and past extinction risk, but the role of changes in occupancy is less widel...
Article
Full-text available
Cradle of Diversity Is the biological diversity of reefs a result of attracting species that originated elsewhere, or are they particularly important as cradles of evolution? Kiessling et al. (p. 196 ; see the cover) examine a large database of fossil benthic marine organisms dating back to the Cambrian to test these questions. It seems that reefs,...
Chapter
Full-text available
Hotspots of tropical marine biodiversity are areas that harbour disproportionately large numbers of species compared to surrounding regions. The richness and location of these hotspots have changed throughout the Cenozoic. Here, we review the global dynamics of Cenozoic tropical marine biodiversity hotspots, including the four major hotspots of the...
Article
Full-text available
The Cambrian saw a dramatic increase of metazoan diversity and abundance. Between-assemblage diversity (beta diversity) soared in the first three Cambrian stages, suggesting a rapid increase in the geodisparity of marine animals during the Cambrian radiation. However, it remains unclear how these changes scale up to first-order biogeographic patter...
Conference Paper
Morphological traits of reef-building corals can reflect the functions of corals and the functional diversity of entire reefs. For example, corallite diameter and corallite integration have been used to infer photosymbiosis in corals, while the growth form manifests the structural complexity of the reef. A combination of traits may thus be particul...
Article
Full-text available
The biggest known mass extinction in the history of animal life occurred at the Permian–Triassic boundary and has often been linked to global warming. Previous studies have suggested that a geologically rapid (<40 kyr) temperature increase of more than 10°C occurred simultaneously with the main extinction pulse. This hypothesis is challenged by geo...
Article
Full-text available
Fossil occurrence databases are indispensable resources to the palaeontological community, yet present unique data cleaning challenges. Many studies devote significant attention to cleaning fossil occurrence data prior to analysis, but such efforts are typically bespoke and difficult to reproduce. There are also no standardised methods to detect an...
Article
Full-text available
Trait-based approaches are increasingly relevant to understand ecological and evolutionary patterns. A comprehensive trait database for extant reef corals is already available and widely used to reveal vulnerabilities to environmental disturbances including climate change. However, the lack of similar trait compilations for extinct reef builders pr...
Article
Full-text available
Anthropogenic disturbance and climate change can result in dramatic increases in the emergence of new, ecologically novel, communities of organisms. We used a standardised framework to detect local novel communities in 2135 pollen time series over the last 25,000 years. Eight thousand years of post‐glacial warming coincided with a threefold increas...
Article
Full-text available
Ecological interactions are ubiquitous on tropical coral reefs, where sessile organisms coexist in limited space. Within these high-diversity systems, reef-building scleractinian corals form an intricate interaction network. The role of biotic interactions among reef corals is well established on ecological timescales. However, its potential effect...
Article
Mid-to Late Cretaceous olistostrome generation ensued sequentially, linked to progressive southwest-directed thrusting of the Semail Ophiolite towards and over Arabia – at first in the northeastern part of the oceanic Hawasina Basin (Umar Sub-Basin) and then in its southwestern part (Hamrat Duru-Sub-Basin). Thrusting steepened slopes, causing seism...
Chapter
Full-text available
Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGII_FinalDraft_Chapter03.pdf
Article
Full-text available
Anthropogenic climate change is increasingly threatening biodiversity on a global scale. Rich spots of biodiversity, regions with exceptionally high endemism and/or number of species, are a top priority for nature conservation. Terrestrial studies have hypothesized that rich spots occur in places where long-term climate change was dampened relative...
Article
Biodiversity dynamics are shaped by a complex interplay between current conditions and historic legacy. The interaction of short- and long-term climate change may mask the true relationship of evolutionary responses to climate change if not specifically accounted for. These paleoclimate interactions have been demonstrated for extinction risk and bi...
Article
Significance The effect of climate change on biodiversity is dependent on previous climatic trends. For example, climate warming is more deleterious when added to a long-term warming trend. We tested how the interaction of short- and long-term climate change affects origination rates through time. Using data from the marine fossil record, we show t...
Article
Amidst long-term fluctuations of the abiotic environment, the degree to which life organizes into distinct biogeographic provinces (provinciality) can reveal the fundamental drivers of global biodiversity. Our understanding of present-day biogeography implies that changes in the distribution of continents across climatic zones have predictable effe...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Coral communities today are negatively affected by anthropogenic greenhouse gas release causing global warming and ocean acidification. Natural greenhouse gas release by massive volcanism is thought to have caused one of the Big Five mass extinctions at the end of the Triassic period (200 million years ago). This hyperthermal event triggered one of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Anthropogenic climate change is increasingly threatening biodiversity on a global scale. Richspots of biodiversity, regions with exceptionally high endemism and/or number of species, are a top priority for nature conservation. Terrestrial studies have hypothesised that richspots occur in places where long-term climate change was dampened relative t...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The Scientific Outcome was produced by participants in the first-ever IPCC-IPBES co-sponsored workshop which took place in December 2020. This workshop is placed in the context of recent international agreements including the Paris Agreement, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and ongoing preparation for the post-2020 global biodiversi...
Presentation
Global warming today is taking its toll on coral reefs globally, particularly affecting scleractinian corals which rely on their symbionts for nutrition. In the past, hyperthermal events have probably triggered evolutionary losses and gains of symbiosis in corals. Accordingly, we expect photosymbiotic corals to be more strongly affected than non-sy...
Article
Full-text available
The current assessment of extinction risk in reef corals by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been criticized, because coral life‐history traits associated with resilience are not reflected in the conservation status. We aimed to carry out a quantitative assessment of the link between reef coral traits and species extinc...
Article
Full-text available
Many ecological and evolutionary hypotheses have been proposed to explain the latitudinal diversity gradient, i.e. the increase in species richness from the poles to the tropics. Among the evolutionary hypotheses, the ‘out of the tropics’ (OTT) hypothesis has received considerable attention. The OTT posits that the tropics are both a cradle and sou...
Article
Climate change affects life at global scales and across systems but is of special concern in areas that are disproportionately rich in biological diversity and uniqueness. Using a meta-analytical approach, we analysed >8000 risk projections of the projected impact of climate change on 273 areas of exceptional biodiversity, including terrestrial and...
Conference Paper
Taphonomic effects complicate the assessment of variations in biodiversity over time. Most pre-Cenozoic fossil assemblages have been altered through taphonomic effects, such as lithification and aragonite dissolution. Several studies have found alpha (local) and gamma (global) diversity in marine ecosystems to be low in the early Mesozoic and then...
Article
Full-text available
Assessing extinction risk from climate drivers is a major goal of conservation science. Few studies, however, include a long-term perspective of climate change. Without explicit integration, such long-term temperature trends and their interactions with short-term climate change may be so dominant that they blur or even reverse the apparent direct r...
Poster
Full-text available
Biodiversity dynamics are shaped by a complex interplay between current conditions and historic legacy (Antao et al. (2020), Svenning et al. (2015)). While a simple relationship is often used to link evolution with temperature, short- term climate change likely interacts with previous temperature trends when in uencing the pace of origination. Such...
Article
Assessing extinction risk from climate drivers is a major goal of conservation science. Few studies, however, include a long-term perspective of climate change. Without explicit integration, such long-term temperature trends and their interactions with short-term climate change may be so dominant that they blur or even reverse the apparent direct r...
Article
Full-text available
The lower Oligocene coral communities and reefs exposed in the Lessini Shelf of northern Italy may record one of the oldest well-developed barrier reef/lagoon systems of the Cenozoic. However, the rimmed-shelf interpretation has been repeatedly challenged in favour of a ramp model with scattered corals. Based upon a re-analysis of selected localiti...
Article
Full-text available
A diverse assemblage of bodily preserved sponges has been recovered from a lower Lutetian tuffite horizon in the Chiampo Valley, Lessini Mountains, Italy. The sponge assemblage is dominated by hexactinellids and lithistids. Using uniformitarian criteria, the composition of the assemblage suggests a water depth greater than 200 m. Sponges are often...
Article
Full-text available
Organismic groups vary non‐randomly in their vulnerability to extinction. However, it is unclear whether the same groups are consistently vulnerable, regardless of the dominant extinction drivers, or whether certain drivers have their own distinctive and predictable victims. Given the challenges presented by anthropogenic global warming, we focus o...
Presentation
Species traits and spatial distributions influence the extinction risk of species as a result of abiotic and biotic change. We performed a comparative assessment of the relationship between traits and extinction risk of reef corals in the modern oceans against Plio-Pleistocene reef corals. We chose the Plio-Pleistocene as most of the corals during...
Presentation
Full-text available
The end-Triassic mass extinction and reef crisis was a significant crisis in the evolution of scleractinian corals. The crisis is thought to have been caused by volcanically induced global warming. Accordingly, we would expect photosymbiotic corals to be more strongly affected than non-symbiotic corals. However, although corallite integration has d...
Article
Full-text available
Crustose coralline red algae (CCA) play a key role in the consolidation of many modern tropical coral reefs. It is unclear, however, if their function as reef consolidators was equally pronounced in the geological past. Using a comprehensive database on ancient reefs, we show a strong correlation between the presence of CCA and the formation of tru...
Article
Change begets change In the Anthropocene, humans are altering ecosystems, causing extinctions, and reassorting species distributions. As we facilitate these changes, we are creating new collections of species. Such “novel communities” are not specific to our epoch, and the patterns of diversity and extinction associated with past events can shed li...
Article
Full-text available
Calcareous red algae have been important components in reefal facies since the Mesozoic but their volumetric contribution to Palaeozoic reefs was usually low. Here, we report a reef-building community dominated by Parachaetetes, a genus of solenoporacean red algae, overgrowing uppermost Permian sponge reefs in Cili (Hunan Province, South China). Th...
Poster
Full-text available
Paleontology is a small subject at universities. In Germany, there less than 50 professorships scattered across different locations. The fragmentation makes it difficult to develop common visions and research priorities. Over the last few decades, Paleontology has been transforming from a largely descriptive subject to a predictive science with und...
Preprint
Full-text available
Local and global environmental change is transforming ecological assemblages into new configurations, resulting in ecosystems with novel communities. Here we develop a robust methodology for the identification of novel communities, examine patterns in their natural chance of occurrence, and quantify the probability of local extinction, emigration,...
Article
Full-text available
Significance We discovered that the tropical oceanic diversity depression is not a recent phenomenon nor very deep time in origin by using a comprehensive global dataset of the calcified shells of planktonic foraminifers, abundant unicellular organisms in the world's oceans, which are exceptionally well preserved in marine sediments as fossils. The...
Article
Full-text available
Beta diversity, the compositional variation among communities, is often associated with environmental gradients. Other drivers of beta diversity include stochastic processes, priority effects, predation, or competitive exclusion. Temporal turnover may also explain differences in faunal composition between fossil assemblages. To assess the drivers o...
Article
Full-text available
Rapid climate change is postulated to cause marine extinctions , especially among climate-sensitive clades, traits and regions 1-6. This premise is based on two hypotheses: (1) known individual physiological sensitivities scale up to macroecologi-cal selectivity patterns 4,7,8 and (2) ancient hyperthermal events are appropriate models to anticipate...
Conference Paper
Stable isotope measurements of carbonate and phosphate fossils provide the foundation for quantitative study of deep-time climate change and its link to the carbon cycle. Despite this, such data have only been organized in spreadsheets until now. To facilitate application of isotope data to studies of the Earth system, we have created a relational...
Article
Full-text available
Fundamental ecological and evolutionary theories, such as community saturation and diversity-dependent diversification, assume that biotic competition restricts resource use, and thus limits realized niche breadth and geographic range size [1-3]. This principle is called competitive exclusion. The corollary (ecological release) posits that, after c...
Article
Palaeontologists often ask identical questions to those asked by ecologists. Despite this, ecology is considered a core discipline of conservation biology, while palaeontologists are rarely consulted in the protection of species, habitats and ecosystems. The recent emergence of conservation palaeobiology presents a big step towards better integrati...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Late Paleozoic Ice Age (LPIA) was a phase of major climatic changes in Earth's history and serves as an analogue to today's conditions of globally increasing ocean temperatures, continuously melting ice caps, and rising sea-levels. Better understanding of the effects of the LPIA on macroevolutionary patterns can help in predicting the consequen...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The devastating end-Permian mass extinction (252 my ago) is regarded as the most severe biotic crisis of the last 500 million years. Profound and rapid greenhouse gas release by Siberian magmatism led to a tropical seawater temperature increase of eight to ten degrees led to a complete reworking of the biosphere (e.g. Joa-chimski et al. 2012; Schob...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Reef assemblages are highly heterogeneous habitats providing complex structures with strong environmental gradients, yielding extremely diverse faunal assemblages. Environmental factors in adjacent level-bottom habitats are thought to be more uniform. However, some studies have shown large variations in faunal composition in uniform habitats, such...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Late Paleozoic Ice Age (LPIA), a phase of major climatic changes, is commonly considered a phase of sluggish turnover rates. Using a large compilation of occurrence data, we re-assess turnover rates and diversity patterns of marine benthic taxa during the LPIA. We compare dynamics in the Paleozoic (here: brachiopods) and the modern evolutionary...
Article
With 1429 animal species, the Triassic Cassian Formation in the Dolomites, Southern Alps (Italy), yields the highest species richness reported from any spatially constrained pre-Quaternary formation known to science. The high preserved diversity is partly attributable to a high primary diversity governed by the tropical setting, increasing alpha di...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The sponge fauna from a lower Lutetian tuffite horizon in the Chiampo Valley, Lessini Mountains, north-eastern Italy, consists of 32 species: 15 hexactinellid and 17 demosponges (15 lithistids and 2 hypercalcified). Such fauna shows affinities with sponges from the Eocene of Spain and the Cretaceous of Germany. The stratigraphical range of taxa as...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Stony corals and coralline sponges are the dominant metazoan reef builders of the Phanerozoic. Both groups have a very volatile fossil record. Whether this volatility is driven by genuine biological signals or preservation bias is still unclear. This, however, imposes severe problems for reconstructing biodiversity dynamics over geological time sca...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The relatively low turnover rates of scleractinian corals in the fossil record are in stark contrast to the high level of extinction risk of modern reef corals as inferred from IUCN Red List. Several spatial and life-history traits are thought to influence coral extinction risk and have been shown to correspond well with IUCN Red List categorizatio...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental change and biotic interactions both govern the evolution of the biosphere, but the relative importance of these drivers over geological time remains largely unknown. Previous work suggests that, unlike environmental parameters, diversity dynamics differ profoundly between the Palaeozoic and post-Palaeozoic eras. Here we use the fossil...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Many conservation lagerstätten feature excellent fossil preservation, but the environmental conditions responsible for the preservation, such as anoxia or hypersalinity, are often not favorable for highly diverse communities. Concentration lagerstätten contain abundant fossils that are commonly not well preserved, which inhibits taxon identificatio...
Presentation
Full-text available
George William Mallory Harrison gave a 15 minute talk giving evidence that bivalves and brachiopods largely passed as ships in the night when bivalves adopted infaunal lifestyles in the Mesozoic Marine Revolution but were direct competitors before that point. He won the Best Talk Award of the Macroecology 2019 conference for this talk.
Article
Unbiased time series of diversity dynamics are vital for quantifying the grand history of life. Applications include identifying ancient mass extinctions and inferring both biotic and abiotic controls on diversification rates. We introduce divDyn, a new R package that facilitates the calculation of taxonomic richness, extinction and origination rat...
Poster
Full-text available
Several ecological and evolutionary hypotheses have been proposed to explain the latitudinal diversity gradient. The “out of the tropics” hypothesis posits the tropics as a cradle of biodiversity, with most clades originating in the tropics and then expanding their ranges towards temperate regions through dispersal. This study analyses the diversit...
Article
Full-text available
The sponge body fossils from the Lutetian (Eocene) of Chiampo Valley in north-eastern Italy, Lessini Mountains, exhibit a high diversity. The fauna, comprising 32 species, was recently described in a systematic study based on museum material. Here we compare diversity measures and rank-abundance distributions between the museum material and new mat...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Comparing diversity among different ecosystems is difficult even in modern environments, but the biases in the fossil record yield many more challenges. Variations in sampling intensity and preservation over time and space are the major problems. Variability of fossil preservation is usually countered with subsampling, which in essence degrades wel...
Article
Geologically rapid climate change is anticipated to increase extinction risk nonuniformly across the Earth's surface. Tropical species may be more vulnerable than temperate species to current climate warming because of high tropical climate velocities and reduced seawater oxygen levels. To test whether rapid warming indeed preferentially increased...