Speciation collapse and invasive species dynamics during the Late Devonian “Mass Extinction”

GSA Today 01/2012; 22:4-9. DOI: 10.1130/g128a.1
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    ABSTRACT: Devonian sediments of the Malaguide Complex potentially could include the Frasnian–Famennian boundary, one of the five greatest Phanerozoic biotic crises. Conodont biofacies and microfacies of carbonate clasts from a pebbly mudstone underlying Tournaisian radiolarites allows identification, for the first time in the Malaguide Complex, of Devonian shallow marine environments laterally grading to deeper realms. The clasts yielded Frasnian conodont associations of the falsiovalis to rhenana biozones, with six biofacies that reveal different environmental conditions in their source areas. Source sediments were dismantled and redeposited within the pebbly mudstone, whose origin is tentatively related to one of the events that are associated worldwide with the Frasnian–Famennian crisis. The latter is recorded, in two equivalent Malaguide pelagic successions, by stratigraphic discontinuities, and it was, probably, tectonically and/or eustatically controlled, as in other Alpine-Mediterranean Paleotethyan margins.
    Terra Nova 09/2013; · 2.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Ediacaran–Cambrian transition signals a drastic change in both diversity and ecosystem construction. The Ediacara biota (consisting of various metazoan stem lineages in addition to extinct eukaryotic clades) disappears, and is replaced by more familiar Cambrian and Paleozoic metazoan groups. Although metazoans are present in the Ediacaran, their ecological contribution is dwarfed by Ediacaran-type clades of uncertain phylogenetic affinities, while Ediacaran-type morphologies are virtually non-existent in younger assemblages. Three alternative hypotheses have been advanced to explain this dramatic change at, or near, the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary: 1) mass extinction of most Ediacaran forms; 2) biotic replacement, with early Cambrian organisms eliminating Ediacaran forms; and 3) a Cheshire Cat model, with Ediacaran forms gradually disappearing from the fossil record (but not necessarily going extinct) as a result of the elimination of unique preservational settings, primarily microbial matgrounds, that dominated the Ediacaran. To evaluate these proposed explanations for the biotic changes observed at the Ediacaran–Cambrian transition, environmental drivers leading to global mass extinction are compared to biological factors such as predation and ecosystem engineering. We explore temporal and biogeographic distributions of Ediacaran taxa combined with evaluations of functional guild ranges throughout the Ediacaran. The paucity of temporally-resolved localities with diverse Ediacaran assemblages, combined with difficulties associated with differences in taphonomic regimes before, during, and after the transition hinders this evaluation. Nonetheless, the demonstration of geographic and niche range changes offers a novel means of assessing the downfall of Ediacara-type taxa at the hands of emerging metazoans, which we hypothesize to be most likely due to the indirect ecological impact metazoans had upon the Ediacarans. Ultimately, the combination of studies on ecosystem construction, biostratigraphy, and biogeography showcases the magnitude of the transition at the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary.
    Gondwana Research 03/2013; 23(2):558–573. · 7.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Invasive species are a major threat to modern ecosystems and cause billions of dollars in economic damage annually. The long-term impacts of species invasions are difficult to assess on ecological timescales available to biologists, but the fossil record provides analogues that allow investigation of the long-term impacts of species invasions. Two case studies of ancient invasions, the Late Devonian Biodiversity Crisis (~375 million years ago) and the Late Ordovician Richmondian Invasion (~446 million years ago), provide insight into the effect of invasive species on extinction, speciation, and ecosystem structuring. During both intervals, invasive species are characterized by broad ecological tolerances, broad geographic ranges, and higher-than-average survival potential through the crisis interval. Among the native species, narrowly adapted ecological specialists are more likely to become extinct, while broadly-adapted generalist species persisted through the invasion interval by modifying aspects of their ecological niche through niche evolution. In addition, formation of new species practically stopped during the invasion intervals due to reduced opportunities for geographic isolation and speciation. The results of these impacts produced post-invasion biotas with less diversity, greater biotic homogenization between regions, and a lack of new species forming. Conservation efforts to eradicate invasive species may help mitigate these outcomes in the current biodiversity crisis.
    Evolution Education and Outreach 01/2012; 5(4):526-533.


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Jun 10, 2014