Research ArticlePALEONTOLOGY

Little lasting impact of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum on shallow marine molluscan faunas

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Science Advances  05 Sep 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 9, eaat5528
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat5528

Abstract

Global warming, acidification, and oxygen stress at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) are associated with severe extinction in the deep sea and major biogeographic and ecologic changes in planktonic and terrestrial ecosystems, yet impacts on shallow marine macrofaunas are obscured by the incompleteness of shelf sections. We analyze mollusk assemblages bracketing (but not including) the PETM and find few notable lasting impacts on diversity, turnover, functional ecology, body size, or life history of important clades. Infaunal and chemosymbiotic taxa become more common, and body size and abundance drop in one clade, consistent with hypoxia-driven selection, but within-clade changes are not generalizable across taxa. While an unrecorded transient response is still possible, the long-term evolutionary impact is minimal. Adaptation to already-warm conditions and slow release of CO2 relative to the time scale of ocean mixing likely buffered the impact of PETM climate change on shelf faunas.

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