Chapter

Evolutionary Patterns in Cetacea Fishing Up Prey Size through Deep Time

DAVID R. LINDBERG and NICHOLAS D. PYENSON

in Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248847
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933200 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248847.003.0007
Evolutionary Patterns in Cetacea Fishing Up Prey Size through Deep Time

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This chapter examines the evolution of Cetacea in the context of their role as pelagic and nearshore predators in modern ecosystems. From an evolutionary perspective on the scale of geologic time, cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) have been present in marine systems for less than 10% of metazoan history. Furthermore, the presence of cetaceans in marine systems pales in comparison to that of other well-known community components such as mollusks, arthropods, and bony fish, which have been present for 100%, 100%, and 70% of marine metazoan history, respectively. Moreover, all of the latter taxa are organisms with which cetaceans have strong trophic interactions. Thus, the presence of cetaceans in marine systems represents a recent evolutionary event, compared with the over half-billion-year history of metazoan marine life. Within their comparatively short history in marine systems, cetaceans have made a dramatic transition from obscurity to trophic dominance and marked ecological presence.

Keywords: pelagic predators; nearshore predators; whales; dolphins; marine metazoan

Chapter.  10428 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aquatic Biology

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