Deep drilling reveals massive shifts in evolutionary dynamics after formation of ancient ecosystem

Thomas Wilke*, Torsten Hauffe, Elena Jovanovska, Aleksandra Cvetkoska, Timme Donders, Klemens Ekschmitt, Alexander Francke, Jack Lacey, Zlatko Levkov, Charles R. Marshall, Thomas A. Neubauer, Daniele Silvestro, Björn Stelbrink, Hendrik Vogel, Christian Albrecht, Jens J W Holtvoeth, Sebastian Krastel, Niklas Leicher, Melanie J. Leng, Katja LindhorstAlessia Masi, Nadja Ognjanova-Rumenova, Konstantinos Panagiotopoulos, Jane M. Reed, Laura Sadori, Slavica Tofilovska, Bert Van Bocxlaer, Friederike Wagner-Cremer, Frank P. Wesselingh, Volkmar Wolters, Giovanni Zanchetta, Xiaosen Zhang, Bernd Wagner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


The scarcity of high-resolution empirical data directly tracking diversity over time limits our understanding of speciation and extinction dynamics and the drivers of rate changes. Here, we analyze a continuous species-level fossil record of endemic diatoms from ancient Lake Ohrid, along with environmental and climate indicator time series since lake formation 1.36 million years (Ma) ago. We show that speciation and extinction rates nearly simultaneously decreased in the environmentally dynamic phase after ecosystem formation and stabilized after
deep-water conditions established in Lake Ohrid. As the lake deepens, we also see a switch in the macroevolutionary trade-off, resulting in a transition from a volatile assemblage of short-lived endemic species to a stable community of long-lived species. Our results emphasize the importance of the interplay between environmental/climate change, ecosystem stability, and environmental limits to diversity for diversification processes. The study also provides a new understanding of evolutionary dynamics in long-lived ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabb2943
Number of pages9
JournalScience Advances
Issue number40
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020


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