CIE Spotlight: Global brachiopod palaeobiogeographical evolution from Changhsingian (Late Permian) to Rhaetian (Late Triassic)

Guang S.
Guang S.

Title: Global brachiopod palaeobiogeographical evolution from Changhsingian (Late Permian) to Rhaetian (Late Triassic)

Authors: Ke, Yan; Shen, Shu-zhong; Shi, G. R.; Fan, Jun-xuan; Zhang, Hua; Qiao, Li; Zeng, Yong


Brief summary of the paper: Previous studies suggest that the end-Permian mass extinction caused a dramatic drop of marine biodiversity near the Permian–Triassic boundary. However, it is unclear how profoundly this severe extinction might have changed the global provincialism, and how global provincialism responded to the protracted process of this extinction and subsequent recovery through the Triassic.

In this paper, we carried out quantitative time-series analyses of global brachiopod palaeobiogeography over a timespan of nine consecutive stages/substages from the latest Permian Changhsingian to the latest Triassic Rhaetian based on a global brachiopod database of 483 genera and 2459 species from 1425 localities. Our results suggest that the extinction resulted in a global ‘biogeographical eclipse’ in the ensuing Early Triassic Griesbachian and Dienerian times in that neither biogeographic realm nor province could be recognized.

It was characterized by an extreme low-diversity, mostly dwarfed and nearly globally distributed brachiopod fauna, coupled with persistently high sea surface temperature and a flattened global latitudinal thermal gradient. Global provincialization emerged again during the Olenekian at province level and reached its peak stage during the Carnian when three realms and six provinces were clearly recognized. Global provincialism became weakened again in the latest Triassic Rhaetian, marked by three general realms, but no province distinguished.

Our analyses suggest that both palaeolatitude-related thermal gradient and the presence of Pangea (a profound geographic barrier) were most effective in explaining the spatial patterns. In addition, oceanic currents along the northwestern coast of Pangea also played an important (albeit regional) role in linking southern North and Central America brachiopod faunas with those of the Boreal Realm.

This study also revealed that the brachiopod biodiversity center moved northwards over the studied interval, accompanied and hence accountable for by the northward drift of a large number of tectonic blocks in the Palaeotethys and Neotethys during the Triassic.