Ecological transformation in the wake of the ‘Great Dying’ moves scientists closer to understanding the nature of recovery — ScienceDaily


Scientists are peeping at the ancient oceans to uncover the complexities of mass extinctions in the past and in the future. A new study of the world's greatest extinction by scientists at the California Academy of Sciences and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee reveals how these revolutionary events can change ecosystems.

This study, published today in the Journal of Biology (19459006), shows that extermination survivors share many of the same ecological roles as their predecessors, with only one problem – the surge in modern numbers is characterized by greater mobility. , higher metabolism and more diverse feeding habits. These strong prominences do a better job of promoting recovery, making ecological interactions even stronger in the process: fish are more agile, and marine invertebrates such as predators and mussels become more defensive. Insights into the system and its occupants can help guide modern protection to identify the most resilient and best equipped species on Earth in the face of environmental stress.

"We are interested in understanding why certain species and communities can survive and recover better than other species and communities," said Dr. Ashley Dineen, a former postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at the Department of Paleontology at the University of California at Paleontology. “Biology has long been concerned with the number of species present in extinctions, but we also need to ask about the role of these species and their response to stress – these insights are very important because we are pushing the planet to an increasingly uncertain The future"

A massive extinction event, often referred to as "great death," occurred 252 million years ago and is often synonymous with the modern era. Similar to today, the climate regime is transitioning from a colder period to a warmer period. This climatic volatility is driven by large-scale volcanic eruptions that emit toxic gases that increase the temperature and acidity of the oceans, reduce oxygen concentrations, interrupt powerful ocean currents, and divert the ocean system to the head.

The researchers examined fossils of marine inhabitants such as crickets, snails, corals and sponges from Utah, Nevada and Texas. This area was once a shallow suburb of the ancient and expansive ocean of Panthalassa. Using numerical methods, the team divided marine living species into functional groups with similar traits, such as moving sea omnivores, such as sea urchins, to better understand the ecological transition after the Great Death.

"We learned from the analysis that in addition to documenting the number of species that emerged during ecological restoration, we also need to know what they are actually doing – what scientists call functional diversity," said Dr. Peter Roopnarine, the curator of the college. Geology "This helps us understand whether the system has turned to species that have a variety of responses to stress."

A surprising revelation: the results of the study indicate significant ecological continuity between species – species that are eliminated in extinction events have the same characteristics as species in their consequences. However, during the recovery process, the number has significantly shifted to larger and more active survivors, who are strikingly similar to the residents of our modern ocean. This shift in function emphasis may be a sign of restoring the ecosystem on the road.

"Our next step is to determine the species you want to recover from the front line," Dineen said. “For example, if you have a coral reef with twenty different types of corals, but they all respond equally to stressors, they will all be affected when they are disturbed. But if you have twenty corals Everyone reacts differently to stress, and the likelihood of losing the entire coral reef is reduced. Having a diverse coping mechanism is critical to the future of increased environmental stress."

The research team hopes that their findings on species survivors will help scientists identify our modernization and urgently needed protection priorities.

"We often focus on estimating the number of species in an ecosystem, but we should also understand how these species survive and how they survive, and focus on protecting the work accordingly," Dineen said. “When you consider the massive extinction of species we face today, it is clear that we must consider the entire system to correct the process.”


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