Abstract

Marine bivalves document the long-term increase in generic richness through the early Mesozoic. Following the end-Permian crisis, the Early Triassic was marked by a gradual recovery in generic richness (57 Induan and 66 Olenekian genera). Diversity slowly increased in the Middle Triassic (98 Anisian and 121 Ladinian genera) and peaked in the Late Triassic (171 Carnian, 165 Norian, and 143 Rhaetian genera). These data support earlier hypotheses that the recovery following the end-Permian extinction was very gradual and was not completed (in terms of both richness and ecologic complexity) until the Ladinian. Although a Carnian-Norian extinction is not evident in the data and may be a regional event limited to the Tethyan realm, the end-Triassic extinction is profound—fewer than 30 genera (<35%) survived into the Jurassic. Diversity metrics are not equally distributed among bivalve living habits. The generally epifaunal Pteriomorphia and Isofilibranchia exhibit higher extinction rates compared to the ordinarily infaunal Heteroconchia (especially the Veneroida and Trigonoida). This pattern of selective extinction led to a gradual increase in generic richness of infaunal suspension feeders through most of the Triassic. Contrary to previous hypotheses, this increase in infaunalization may not have been related to the evolutionary expansion of major predatory groups (e.g., shell-crushing cephalopods, crustaceans, sharks, fish, and reptiles), which had typically low abundances and limited distribution during the Triassic. Drilling predators, although present during the Triassic, are not considered to be prominent causes of mortality among bivalves. Instead, the infaunalization of bivalves during the Triassic may have been due to several interconnected abiotic and biotic causes associated with the recovery after the end-Permian mass extinction.

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