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

esting 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."


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

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