Skip to Main Content
Book Chapter

Engineering the Cambrian explosion: the earliest bioturbators as ecosystem engineers

By
Liam G. Herringshaw
Liam G. Herringshaw
Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Prince Philip Drive, St John’s, NL, A1B 3X5, CanadaGeology, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX, UK
Search for other works by this author on:
Richard H. T. Callow
Richard H. T. Callow
Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Prince Philip Drive, St John’s, NL, A1B 3X5, CanadaStatoil ASA, Stavanger 4035, Norway
Search for other works by this author on:
Duncan McIlroy
Duncan McIlroy
Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Prince Philip Drive, St John’s, NL, A1B 3X5, Canada
Search for other works by this author on:
Published:
January 01, 2017

Abstract

By applying modern biological criteria to trace fossil types and assessing burrow morphology, complexity, depth, potential burrow function and the likelihood of bioirrigation, we assign ecosystem engineering impact (EEI) values to the key ichnotaxa in the lowermost Cambrian (Fortunian). Surface traces such as Monomorphichnus have minimal impact on sediment properties and have very low EEI values; quasi-infaunal traces of organisms that were surficial modifiers or biodiffusors, such as Planolites, have moderate EEI values; and deeper infaunal, gallery biodiffusive or upward-conveying/downward-conveying traces, such as Teichichnus and Gyrolithes, have the highest EEI values. The key Cambrian ichnotaxon Treptichnus pedum has a moderate to high EEI value, depending on its functional interpretation. Most of the major functional groups of modern bioturbators are found to have evolved during the earliest Cambrian, including burrow types that are highly likely to have been bioirrigated. In fine-grained (or microbially bound) sedimentary environments, trace-makers of bioirrigated burrows would have had a particularly significant impact, generating advective fluid flow within the sediment for the first time, in marked contrast with the otherwise diffusive porewater systems of the Proterozoic. This innovation is likely to have created significant ecospace and engineered fundamentally new infaunal environments for macrobiotic and microbiotic organisms alike.

Gold Open Access: This article is published under the terms of the CC-BY 3.0 license.

You do not currently have access to this article.

Figures & Tables

Contents

Geological Society

Earth System Evolution and Early Life: A Celebration of the Work of Martin Brasier

A. T. Brasier
A. T. Brasier
University of Aberdeen, UK
Search for other works by this author on:
D. McIlroy
D. McIlroy
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Search for other works by this author on:
N. McLoughlin
N. McLoughlin
Rhodes University, South Africa
Search for other works by this author on:
Geological Society of London
Volume
448
ISBN electronic:
9781786202932
Publication date:
January 01, 2017

GeoRef

References

Related

Citing Books via

Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal