Friday, December 25, 2015

~13% of Calcareous Nannoplankton Survived the K-Pg/K-T Mass Extinction

Calcareous nannoplankton assemblage changes linked to paleoenvironmental deterioration and recovery across the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary in the Betic Cordillera (Agost, Spain)


Lamolda et al


Investigations of calcareous nannoplankton assemblages including species richness and abundance data were performed across the K–Pg boundary interval at Agost (SE Spain), between − 100 cm and + 100 cm, below and, respectively, above the boundary, at a considerable high resolution averaging 2 cm. From a total of 98 species of the Upper Maastrichtian, only 13 survived mass extinction, while the rest of the 86% vanished in the K–Pg fallout layer. A slight progressive decline in species richness and abundance was observed toward the top of the Maastrichtian, where mixed assemblages, consisting of both cold-water taxa and typical Tethyan ones are present. Four successive acme events were observed, i.e. Markalius inversus and the calcareous dinoflagellate genus Thoracosphaera starting from the base of the Paleocene, followed by those of Braarudosphaera bigelowii and Neobiscutum parvulum. The most prominent acme intervals belong to Thoracosphaera spp. and B. bigelowii, opportunistic taxa, for which the survival strategy may be linked to their capability to encyst and survive severe environmental deterioration. At the upper part of the studied succession, calcareous nannoplankton assemblages are already dominated by survivor species, as well as incoming ones, showing an early pioneer calcareous nannoplankton ecosystems about 35–40 kyr after the K–Pg boundary. Correlation between the calcareous nannoplankton assemblage fluctuation, including species richness and abundance, and the paleoenvironmental changes, such as the eustatic and climatic modifications, are also discussed.

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