Biogeochemical significance of pelagic ecosystem function : an end-Cretaceous case study
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Pelagic ecosystem function is integral to global biogeochemical cycling, and plays a major role in modulating atmospheric CO2 concentrations (pCO2). Uncertainty as to the effects of human activities on marine ecosystem function hinders projection of future atmospheric pCO2. To this end, events in the geological past can provide informative case studies in the response of ecosystem function to environmental and ecological changes. Around the Cretaceous–Palaeogene (K–Pg) boundary, two such events occurred: Deccan large igneous province (LIP) eruptions and massive bolide impact at the Yucatan Peninsula. Both perturbed the environment, but only the impact coincided with marine mass extinction. As such, we use these events to directly contrast the response of marine biogeochemical cycling to environmental perturbation with and without changes in global species richness. We measure this biogeochemical response using records of deep-sea carbonate preservation. We find that Late Cretaceous Deccan volcanism prompted transient deep-sea carbonate dissolution of a larger magnitude and timescale than predicted by geochemical models. Even so, the effect of volcanism on carbonate preservation was slight compared with bolide impact. Empirical records and geochemical models support a pronounced increase in carbonate saturation state for more than 500 000 years following the mass extinction of pelagic carbonate producers at the K–Pg boundary. These examples highlight the importance of pelagic ecosystems in moderating climate and ocean chemistry.
Henehan , M , Hull , P , Penman , D , Rae , J W B & Schmidt , D 2016 , ' Biogeochemical significance of pelagic ecosystem function : an end-Cretaceous case study ' Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences , vol 371 , no. 1694 . DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0510
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences
© 2016 The Author(s), http://royalsocietypublishing.org/licence, Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0510
This work was aided by a Nuffield Summer Studentship granted to MJH, a U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) Post-Expedition Activity award for IODP Exp. 342 to PMH, a Flint Postdoctoral Fellowship to DEP, a NERC PhD Studentship granted to JWBR, and a URF and Wolfson merit award to DNS.
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