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Title: Mid Pleistocene foraminiferal mass extinction coupled with phytoplankton evolution
Authors: Kender, Sev
McClymont, Erin L.
Elmore, Aurora C.
Emanuele, Dario
Leng, Melanie J.
Elderfield, Henry
First Published: 17-Jun-2016
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Citation: Nature Communications, 2016, 7, Article number: 11970
Abstract: Understanding the interaction between climate and biotic evolution is crucial for deciphering the sensitivity of life. An enigmatic mass extinction occurred in the deep oceans during the Mid Pleistocene, with a loss of over 100 species (20%) of sea floor calcareous foraminifera. An evolutionarily conservative group, benthic foraminifera often comprise >50% of eukaryote biomass on the deep-ocean floor. Here we test extinction hypotheses (temperature, corrosiveness and productivity) in the Tasman Sea, using geochemistry and micropalaeontology, and find evidence from several globally distributed sites that the extinction was caused by a change in phytoplankton food source. Coccolithophore evolution may have enhanced the seasonal ‘bloom’ nature of primary productivity and fundamentally shifted it towards a more intra-annually variable state at ∼0.8 Ma. Our results highlight intra-annual variability as a potential new consideration for Mid Pleistocene global biogeochemical climate models, and imply that deep-sea biota may be sensitive to future changes in productivity.
DOI Link: 10.1038/ncomms11970
ISSN: 2041-1723
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2016. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Geology

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