Mass-Extinction: Evolution and the Effects of External Influences on Unfit Species
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Newman, M.E.J.; Roberts, B.W.
We present a new model for extinction in which species evolve in bursts or 'avalanches,' during which they become on average more susceptible to environmental stresses such as harsh climates and so are more easily rendered extinct. Results of simulations and analytic calculations using our model show a power-law distribution of extinction sizes which is in reasonable agreement with fossil data. We also see a number of features qualitatively similar to those seen in the fossil record. For example, we seefrequent smaller extinctions in the wake of a large mass extinction, which arise because there is reduced competition for resources in the aftermath of a large extinction event, so that species which would not normally be able to compete can get a foothold, but only until the next cold winter or bad attack of the flu comes along to wipe them out.
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