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Science. 2006 Nov 24;314(5803):1289-92.

Abundance distributions imply elevated complexity of post-Paleozoic marine ecosystems.

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  • 1Department of Geology, Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA. pwagner@fmnh.org

Abstract

Likelihood analyses of 1176 fossil assemblages of marine organisms from Phanerozoic (i.e., Cambrian to Recent) assemblages indicate a shift in typical relative-abundance distributions after the Paleozoic. Ecological theory associated with these abundance distributions implies that complex ecosystems are far more common among Meso-Cenozoic assemblages than among the Paleozoic assemblages that preceded them. This transition coincides not with any major change in the way fossils are preserved or collected but with a shift from communities dominated by sessile epifaunal suspension feeders to communities with elevated diversities of mobile and infaunal taxa. This suggests that the end-Permian extinction permanently altered prevailing marine ecosystem structure and precipitated high levels of ecological complexity and alpha diversity in the Meso-Cenozoic.

PMID:
17124319
DOI:
10.1126/science.1133795
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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