In the coming century, life in the ocean will be confronted with a suite of environmental conditions that have no analog in human history. Thus, there is an urgent need to determine which marine species will adapt and which will go extinct. Here, we review the growing literature on marine extinctions and extinction risk in the fossil, historical, and modern records to compare the patterns, drivers, and biological correlates of marine extinctions at different times in the past. Characterized by markedly different environmental states, some past periods share common features with predicted future scenarios. We highlight how the different records can be integrated to better understand and predict the impact of current and projected future environmental changes on extinction risk in the ocean.
Harnik P. G., Lotze H. K., Anderson S. C., Finkel Z. V., Finnegan S., Lindberg D. R., Liow L. H., Lockwood R., McClain C. R., McGuire J. L., O’Dea A., Pandolfi J. M., Simpson C., Tittensor D. P., in press. Extinctions in ancient and modern seas. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.07.010. Article (subscription required).