Field of Science

New Findings on the Early Triassic Recovery of the Terrestrial Vertebrate Fauna - Redux

Here is the abstract and link to the new article and it is currently open access.

Irmis, R. B. and J. H. Whiteside. 2011.Delayed recovery of non-marine tetrapods after the end-Permian mass extinction tracks global carbon cycle. Proceedings of the Royal Society B (advance online publication) doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1895

Abstract - During the end-Permian mass extinction, marine ecosystems suffered a major drop in diversity, which was maintained throughout the Early Triassic until delayed recovery during the Middle Triassic. This depressed diversity in the Early Triassic correlates with multiple major perturbations to the global carbon cycle, interpreted as either intrinsic ecosystem or external palaeoenvironmental effects. In contrast, the terrestrial record of extinction and recovery is less clear; the effects and magnitude of the end-Permian extinction on non-marine vertebrates are particularly controversial. We use specimen-level data from southern Africa and Russia to investigate the palaeodiversity dynamics of non-marine tetrapods across
the Permo-Triassic boundary by analysing sample-standardized generic richness, evenness and relative abundance. In addition, we investigate the potential effects of sampling, geological and taxonomic biases on these data. Our analyses demonstrate that non-marine tetrapods were severely affected by the end-Permian mass extinction, and that these assemblages did not begin to recover until the Middle Triassic. These data are congruent with those from land plants and marine invertebrates. Furthermore, they are consistent with the idea that unstable low-diversity post-extinction ecosystems were subject to boom-bust cycles, reflected in multiple Early Triassic perturbations of the carbon cycle.

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