Phytoplankton dynamics from the Cambrian Explosion to the onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event: a review of Cambrian acritarch diversity

Nowak, Hendrik; Servais, Thomas; Monnet, Claude; Molyneux, Stewart G.; Vandenbroucke, Thijs R.A.. 2015 Phytoplankton dynamics from the Cambrian Explosion to the onset of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event: a review of Cambrian acritarch diversity. Earth-Science Reviews, 151. 117-131.

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Most early Palaeozoic acritarchs are thought to represent a part of the marine phytoplankton and so constituted a significant element at the base of the marine trophic chain during the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ and the subsequent ‘Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event.’ Cambrian acritarch occurrences have been recorded in a great number of studies. In this paper, published data on Cambrian acritarchs are assembled in order to reconstruct taxonomic diversity trends that can be compared with the biodiversity of marine invertebrates. We compile a database and calculate various diversity indices at global and regional (i.e. Gondwana or Baltica) scales. The stratigraphic bins applied are at the level of the ten Cambrian stages, or of fourteen commonly used biozones in a somewhat higher resolved scheme. Our results show marked differences between palaeogeographical regions. They also indicate limitations of the data and a potential sampling bias, as the taxonomic diversity indices of species are significantly correlated with the number of studies per stratigraphic bin. The total and normalized diversities of genera are not affected in the same way. The normalized genus diversity curves show a slow but irregular rise over the course of the Cambrian. These also are the least biased. A radiation of species and to a lesser extent of genera in the ‘lower’ Cambrian Series 2 appears to mirror the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ of metazoans. This radiation, not evident on Gondwana, is followed by a prominent low in species diversity in the upper Series 3 and lower Furongian. Highest diversities are reached globally, and on both Baltica and Gondwana, in the uppermost Cambrian Stage 10, more precisely in the Peltura trilobite Zone, preceding a substantial phase of acritarch species extinction below and at the Cambrian/Ordovician boundary. Nearly all the genera present in Stage 10 survived into the Ordovician. The forms that emerged during the Cambrian therefore became the foundation for the more rapid radiation of acritarchs during the ‘Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event’.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 00128252
Date made live: 27 Jul 2016 10:03 +0 (UTC)

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