Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ecological Changes During the Glacial & Interglacials of the late Paleozoic ice age of Pennsylvanian Carboniferous Argentina

Compositional turnover and ecological changes related to the waxing and waning of glaciers during the late Paleozoic ice age in ice-proximal regions (Pennsylvanian, western Argentina)




The late Paleozoic ice age (LPIA) had a profound effect on the biota. Despite much research having been focused on paleotropical regions or global-scale analyses, regional ecological changes have seldom been studied in ice-proximal basins. Here, I study the compositional turnover and diversity structure across the main Carboniferous glacial event recorded in western Argentina and the subsequent nonglacial interval. Brachiopod and bivalve data from western Argentina suggest that the transition from glacial to nonglacial climates caused major compositional changes. Turnover, however, was not uniform across the bathymetric gradient, being higher in deep environments. Because extirpation was concentrated in brachiopods, but immigration was similar in both clades, the taxonomic structure of the region was significantly modified. Although regional hierarchical diversity structure and occupancy distributions remained stable, dissecting the analysis in brachiopods and bivalves underscores that both clades had different responses to climate change. Brachiopods, on the one hand, show stability in the diversity structure and a very slight decrease in occupancies of intermediate genera, while bivalves show an important rise in diversity, both at the environment and regional scale, and an increase in genera with intermediate occupancies. The bathymetric diversity gradient was also modified from hump shaped with maximum diversity in the deep subtidal to a linear gradient with maximum values toward the offshore. However, relative compositional differences within environments remained stable, with maximum values at intermediate depths both in glacial and nonglacial intervals. Moreover, local-scale coexistence between brachiopods and bivalves changed in the nonglacial interval, showing significant segregation, which indicates relevant modifications in community assembly dynamics. Results from western Argentina highlight the magnitude of regional-scale ecological changes during the LPIA in ice-proximal regions, suggesting that the waxing and waning of glaciers was able to cause regional taxonomic turnover and medium-scale ecological changes even during intervals of relative macroevolutionary quiescence.

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