ABSTRACT: Patterns of diversity in the modern planktic foraminifera indicate a latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG), which peaks in the mid-latitude regions. Plankton distributional patterns are oftenmost strongly associated with temperature and are expected to change in response to expanded tropical water masses. Defining the underlying causes of climatic and oceanographic processes, however, requires detailed, local-scale diversity curves and evolutionary metrics, as well as solid taxonomic concepts of planktic foraminifera, to test the oceanographic processes driving evolution ofmarine plankton. Currently, diversity estimates for the planktic foraminifera are mainly based on global datasets skewed towards tropical to subtropical sites and conducted at coarse resolutions that hamper investigations of evolutionary processes, especially for short-lived climate perturbations. Here, we present 10-kyr resolution diversity curves and 25-kyr resolution local first appearance and extirpation rates of planktic foraminifera for four Ocean Drilling Program sites that extend from the temperate northern edge of the modern-day position of the Kuroshio Current Extension (KCE) to the tropics. We provide an updated taxonomic review of late Neogene planktic foraminiferal species from within the influence of the KCE. These data allow for investigations of the western Pacific LDG and patterns of evolution through the late Neogene in response to tectonic and climate events. Our results indicate that a mid-latitude diversity peak has been prominent in the western Pacific since at least 12.1Ma, with highest diversity generally on the northern edge of the KCE. These data contradict previous studies indicating highest diversity is located +/- 20 degrees, as our data reveal highest diversity for the planktic foraminifera at +/- 35 degrees N likely due to strong seasonality. Development of the modern North Pacific gyre system due to closure of the Central American Seaway and constriction of the Indonesian Throughflow increased the LDG between the tropics and the northernmost site, likely in response to KCE intensification. Diversity was only slightly affected during the mid-Piacenzian Warm Period (approx. 3.2-2.9Ma),with diversity gradients between the equatorial site and southernmost mid-latitude sites becoming similar, perhaps indicating a weaker thermal gradient developing in the northwest Pacific as the KCE and warmer waters were displaced northwards.With intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation came a decrease in diversity at the northernmost site, hypothesized to be caused by subtropical gyre constriction and southward displacement of subpolar surface waters. The beginning of the mid-Pleistocene transition marks an increase in diversity gradients, especially between the northernmost and tropical sites. A detailed taxonomic evaluation of planktic foraminiferal species has led to synonymization of what we consider regional morphological variants, as well as revised taxonomic concepts of key subtropical to temperate late Neogene planktic foraminifera. Scanning electron micrographs capture the morphological variability within a species concept for the first time in great detail for this part of the world ocean. These data and updated taxonomic concepts provide a framework for future studies to link evolutionary patterns with high-resolution geochemical and sedimentological data to further interpret localized drivers of diversification in the planktic foraminifera.
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