Field of Science

What End-Permian Terrestrial Mass Extinction? Negative Evidence from South China

Xiong, C., and Q. Wang. 2011. Permian–Triassic land-plant diversity in South China: Was there a mass extinction at the Permian/Triassic boundary? Paleobiology 37:157-167; DOI: 10.1666/09029.1

Abstract - Diversity dynamics of the Permian–Triassic land plants in South China are studied by analyzing paleobotanical data. Our results indicate that the total diversity of land-plant megafossil genera and species across the Permian/Triassic boundary (PTB) of South China underwent a progressive decline from the early Late Permian (Wuchiapingian) to the Early-Middle Triassic. In contrast, the diversity of land-plant microfossil genera exhibited only a small fluctuation across the PTB of South China, showing an increase at the PTB. Overall, land plants across the PTB of South China show a greater stability in diversity dynamics than marine faunas. The highest extinction rate (90.91%) and the lowest origination rate (18.18%) of land-plant megafossil genera occurred at the early Early Triassic (Induan), but the temporal duration of the higher genus extinction rates (>60%) in land plants was about 23.4 Myr, from the Wuchiapingian to the early Middle Triassic (Anisian), which is longer than that of the coeval marine faunas (3–11 Myr). Moreover, the change of genus turnover rates in land-plant megafossils steadily fluctuated from the late Early Permian to the Late Triassic. More stable diversity and turnover rate as well as longer extinction duration suggest that land plants near the PTB of South China may have been involved in a gradual floral reorganization and evolutionary replacement rather than a mass extinction like those in the coeval marine faunas.

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