Navigation Links
Ancient environment led to Earth's current marine biodiversity
Date:11/28/2011

Much of our knowledge about past life has come from the fossil record, but how accurately does that record reflect the true history and drivers of biodiversity on Earth?

"It's a question that goes back a long way to the time of Darwin, who looked at the fossil record and tried to understand what it tells us about the history of life," says Shanan Peters, a geoscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In fact, the fossil record can tell us a great deal, Peters says in results of a new study.

In a paper published this week in the journal Science, he and colleague Bjarte Hannisdal of the University of Bergen in Norway show that the evolution of marine life over the past 500 million years has been driven by both ocean chemistry and sea-level changes.

"These results tell us that the number of species in the oceans through time has been influenced by the amount and availability of carbon, oxygen and sulfur, and by sea level," says Lisa Boush, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.

"The study allows us to better understand how modern changes in the environment might affect biodiversity today--and in the future."

The time period studied covers most of the Phanerozoic eon, which extends to the present and includes the evolution of most plant and animal life.

Hannisdal and Peters analyzed fossil data from the Paleobiology Database, along with paleoenvironmental proxy records and data on the rock record.

These data reflect ancient global climates, tectonic movements, continental flooding and changes in biogeochemistry, especially in Earth's oxygen, carbon and sulfur cycles.

The scientists used a method called information transfer, which allowed them to identify causal relationships, not just general associations, between biodiversity and environmental proxy records.

"We find an interesting web of connections between these different systems, which combine to drive what we see in the fossil record," Peters says.

For example, marine biodiversity is closely related to the sulfur cycle, says Peters. The "signal" from sea-level--how much the continents are covered by shallow seas--is also important in the history of marine animal diversity, the researchers found.

The dramatic changes in marine biodiversity seen in the fossil record, Peters says, "likely arose through biological responses to changes in the global carbon and sulfur cycles, and to sea level, through geologic time."

Despite its incompleteness, the fossil record is a good representation of marine biodiversity over the past half-billion years, the scientists believe.

The findings also emphasize the interconnectedness of Earth's physical, chemical and biological processes.

"Earth systems are all connected," says Peters. "It's important to realize that when we perturb one thing, we're not just affecting that one thing.

"The challenge is understanding how that perturbation of one thing, for example, the carbon cycle, will affect the future biodiversity of the planet."


'/>"/>

Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Modern genetics vs. ancient frog-killing fungus
2. Genetic based human diseases are an ancient evolutionary legacy
3. 6,000km trip to reveal clues to ancient migration
4. Dry spells spelled trouble in ancient China
5. Ancient magma superpiles may have shaped the continents
6. Ancient African exodus mostly involved men, geneticists find
7. Male crickets with bigger heads are better fighters, study reveals, echoing ancient Chinese text
8. Decline of carbon-dioxide-gobbling plankton coincided with ancient global cooling
9. University of Leicester archaeologist uncovers evidence of ancient chemical warfare
10. Mountain caribous ancient ancestry revealed
11. Ancient geologic escape hatches mistaken for tube worms
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Ancient environment led to Earth's current marine biodiversity
(Date:3/27/2017)... , March 27, 2017  Catholic Health ... and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics for achieving ... Adoption Model sm . In addition, CHS previously ... U.S. hospitals using an electronic medical record (EMR). ... its high level of EMR usage in an ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric Vehicle Access ... 15.1% over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 million by ... and forecasts for all the given segments on global as well ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Vehicle ... around 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately $14.21 billion ... estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, today confirmed licensing rights that give it ... Nanoparticle), a technology developed in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... Parks Associates announced today that Tom Kerber , Director ... , October 11 in Scottsdale, Arizona . Kerber will ... safety and security products impact the competitive landscape. ... Parks Associates: Smart Home Devices: Main Purchase Driver ... "The residential security market has experienced continued growth, and the introduction of ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... 13 prestigious awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions ... scheduled symposium during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting in North ... in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ... winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: