Scope, Fundamentals and Methods
Published:January 01, 2002
Understanding of biotic response to global change in Earth history is a prime goal in Earth-Life system research (Culver and Rawson, 2000; Lane et al., 2000). The evolution of the Phanerozoic reef ecosystem reflects changes triggered by evolutionary innovations and variations in global and regional controls at different scales. The study of ancient reefs requires bridging across disciplines and timescales and a comparative approach leading to the recognition of trends and patterns. Understanding the ecological change of ancient reefs is also crucial to evaluate threats to modern coral reefs.
We present a revised Phanerozoic time scale and introduce a stratigraphic subdivision of the Phanerozoic based on supersequences. The definition of time slices is based on major (second-order) unconformities that can be correlated on a supraregional or global scale. Thirty-two Phanerozoic time slices are distinguished with a duration between 8 and 33 million years.
Figures & Tables
Phanerozoic Reef Patterns
Detecting patterns and processes of ecosystem evolution is among the main challenges of an integrated earth system science in the 21st century. The evolution of reefs reflects changes triggered by evolutionary innovations and variations in global and regional controls at different scales. The prime fossil record of Phanerozoic reefs offers the opportunity to trace these patterns through space and time. Phanerozoic Reef Patterns presents a comprehensive and up-to-date review on the history of reef building in the last 540 million years. A selection of internationally respected reef specialists presents a database on ancient reefs that is hardly available for any other ecosystem. The thoroughly documented patterns are analyzed with respect to global change, whose impact on living reefs is intensely discussed today. Phanerozoic Reef Patterns stands out from recent reviews on reef evolution by its careful qualitative and quantitative approach based on a comprehensive and multifaceted databank, by the strong focus on data, by a complete and unified coverage of the Phanerozoic from the Early Cambrian to the late Neogene, by emphasizing paleogeographic reef distributions presented on 32 newly developed color maps, and by a detailed index that makes the book a valuable research tool.