Research ArticlePALEONTOLOGY

Quantifying ecospace utilization and ecosystem engineering during the early Phanerozoic—The role of bioturbation and bioerosion

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Science Advances  14 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 33, eabb0618
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb0618


The Cambrian explosion (CE) and the great Ordovician biodiversification event (GOBE) are the two most important radiations in Paleozoic oceans. We quantify the role of bioturbation and bioerosion in ecospace utilization and ecosystem engineering using information from 1367 stratigraphic units. An increase in all diversity metrics is demonstrated for the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition, followed by a decrease in most values during the middle to late Cambrian, and by a more modest increase during the Ordovician. A marked increase in ichnodiversity and ichnodisparity of bioturbation is shown during the CE and of bioerosion during the GOBE. Innovations took place first in offshore settings and later expanded into marginal-marine, nearshore, deep-water, and carbonate environments. This study highlights the importance of the CE, despite its Ediacaran roots. Differences in infaunalization in offshore and shelf paleoenvironments favor the hypothesis of early Cambrian wedge-shaped oxygen minimum zones instead of a horizontally stratified ocean.

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