Euconodont diversity changes in a cooling and closing Iapetus Ocean
H. A. Armstrong, A. W. Owen, 2002. "Euconodont diversity changes in a cooling and closing Iapetus Ocean", Palaeobiogeography and Biodiversity Change: the Ordovician and Mesozoic–Cenozoic Radiations, J. A. Crame, A. W. Owen
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Constrained seriation of euconodont generic presence-absence matrices for four time slices between the late Llanvirn and late Llandovery provides a qualitative method for defining shelf and oceanic biofacies, reconstructing biofacies architectures and analysing biodiversity within a regional context.
We propose many North Atlantic Province taxa had a pelagic mode of life and ranged widely across the Iapetus Ocean. Oceanic biofacies are considered to reflect water mass structure. Changes in vertical distribution of one such biofacies (including Amorphognathus and Spinodus) suggest adaptation to cold, nutrient-rich, oxygen-poor upwelling water. Biofacies distributions suggest that upwelling occurred along the Avalonian margin throughout the Ashgill, but was only initiated along the Laurentian margin immediately prior to the Hirnantian glacial maximum.
Clade diversities and trajectories differ between biofacies and latitudes, reflecting different causal mechanisms. In Laurentia, diversity fell in the early Ashgill, coincident with the onset of ocean cooling. Diversity declined in Avalonia when the microcontinent drifted into tropical latitudes. The stability of euconodont biofacies architecture during the Late Ordovician indicates that global cooling and plate reorganization had a low palaeoecological impact despite decreases in alpha and beta diversity.
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The study of biodiversity through geological time provides important information for the understanding of diversity patterns at the present day. Hitherto, much effort has been paid to studying the mass extinctions of the Phanerozoic but the research emphasis has now changed to focus on what occurred between these spectacular catastrophic events. After the Cambrian ‘explosion’ of marine organisms with readily preservable skeletons, there have been two intervals when life radiated dramatically — the Ordovician Period, and the mid-Mesozoic-Cenozoic eras. These intervals saw a fundamental reorganization of biodiversity on a hierarchy of biogeographical scales. The size of these diversity increases and their probable causes are topics of intense debate, and there is an intriguing link between the dispersal of continents, changing climates and the proliferation of life.
The papers in this volume are written by palaeontologists, biogeographers and geologists addressing the highly topical field of palaeobiodiversity in the context of the Earth’s changing geography. Palaeobiogeography and Biodiversity Change: the Ordovician and Mesozoic-Cenozoic Radiations illustrates many aspects of the two great episodes of biotic radiation and shows how long periods of time and plate tectonic movements have a fundamental influence on the generation and maintenance of major extant biodiversity patterns.
The volume will be of interest to professional palaeontologists, biologists and geologists, as well as to students in earth and biological sciences.