Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK

Research Article

Predicting climate change effects on marine biodiversity: comparison of recent and fossil molluscan death assemblages

R.M.  Warwick a1c1 and S.M.  Turk a2
a1 Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, West Hoe, Plymouth, PL1 3DH, UK
a2 Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Five Acres, Allet, Truro, Cornwall, TR4 9DJ, UK


The death assemblage of molluscs (gastropods and bivalves) from the sandy beach at Harlyn Bay, north Cornwall is shown to be fully representative of the biodiversity of the regional species pool from all habitat types. The biodiversity measures used are average taxonomic distinctness (Δ+, the average degree to which species in an assemblage are related to each other) and variation in taxonomic distinctness (Λ+, the evenness of the spread of taxa across the taxonomic spectrum). A late Pliocene fossil assemblage of molluscs from St Erth Pits, north Cornwall, UK, is also not significantly different in biodiversity, in these terms, from the present-day regional species pool. The climate in the late Pliocene was similar to the present-day Mediterranean, suggesting that predicted changes in climate, by the end of this century, will not affect molluscan biodiversity, although the species composition will undoubtedly change.

(Received January 22 2002)
(Accepted July 11 2002)

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