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Effects of Past Global Change on Life (1995)

Chapter: REFERENCES

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Suggested Citation:"REFERENCES." National Research Council. 1995. Effects of Past Global Change on Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4762.
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Suggested Citation:"REFERENCES." National Research Council. 1995. Effects of Past Global Change on Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4762.
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Page 65
Suggested Citation:"REFERENCES." National Research Council. 1995. Effects of Past Global Change on Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4762.
×
Page 66
Suggested Citation:"REFERENCES." National Research Council. 1995. Effects of Past Global Change on Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4762.
×
Page 67
Suggested Citation:"REFERENCES." National Research Council. 1995. Effects of Past Global Change on Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4762.
×
Page 68

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GLOBAL CHANGE LEADING TO BIODIVERSITY CRISIS IN A GREENHOUSE WORLD: THE CENOMANIAN-TURONIAN 64 (CRETACEOUS) MASS EXTINCTION levels within the latest Cenomanian extinction interval (discussed in text) support this hypothesis. These new finds suggest at least a partial extraterrestrial origin for late Cenomanian iridium, and for dramatic changes in ocean chemistry associated with some of the major early extinction events in the Cenomanian-Turonian interval. If the shocked quartz, at least, represents a younger Cenomanian terrestrial impact than previously known, for which a crater has not yet been found, a minimal number of five Cenomanian terrestrial impacts is now known, and these predict at least 20 additional aquatic impacts during the Cenomanian impact shower. Is there a linkage among these varied data, their interpretations, and the causal mechanisms of mass extinction, especially the abruptness with which large-scale geochemical fluctuations and correlative extinction events initiate and perpetuate in the late Cenomanian and into the early Turonian? There is a high probability that such a relationship exists, that the C-T mass extinction was multicausal, with meteor/comet impacts into Cenomanian oceans—already highly stratified, largely oxygen-depleted, and rich in sequestered trace elements—causing rapid stirring, overturn, and advection events, and dramatically changing the thermal and chemical regimes of the water column up into the mixing zone. Each successive oceanic impact would set in motion a series of dynamic feedback processes expressed as rapid, large-scale, geochemical and thermal fluctuations such as those associated with individual mass extinction events, or steps, throughout the C-T boundary interval. These ocean-wide perturbations, acting on a largely stenotopic, extinction-prone marine biota, were apparently the direct causes of the ecologically graded C-T extinction events as they progressively exceeded the adaptive ranges of, first, lineages within tropical ecosystems, secondly subtropical to warm temperate lineages, and eventually more temperate lineages. Between impacting events, oceanic feedback processes, perhaps driven independently in part by Milankovitch climate cycles, might continue for perhaps thousands of years, seeking equilibrium. Yet each successive oceanic impact within the Cenomanian shower would reset the perturbation clock, driving extinction for hundreds of thousands of years and, in the end, cumulatively affecting more extinction resistant, temperate ecosystems. This hypothesis best fits the available high-resolution data base for the C-T boundary interval, one of the best-studied mass extinction intervals in the world. However, it is a hypothesis in need of extensive testing, especially in the recognition of impacting events in the deep ocean through sedimentological, paleobiological, and geochemical sensing. Ongoing research on the C-T mass extinction interval thus provides us with an extensive integrated data base, blending sedimentologic, geochemical, and paleobiological data at a level of stratigraphic resolution that equals that of broader-scale (100- to 1000-yr observational scale) Quaternary studies of global change. This study reveals the complex dynamics of change within ocean-climate systems, and biological response to them, at peak development of a greenhouse world—a world toward which we may be heading rapidly as a result of modern global warming and ozone depletion. Of greatest importance is the ability, in older Cretaceous rocks, to develop a timetable for extinction, survival, and recovery spanning one of the major global mass extinctions. From these data, we can develop predictive models, within a high-resolution temporal framework, for other mass extinctions, including the one currently in progress as a result of overpopulation, habitat and ecosystem destruction, and resource depletion at the hands of the human species. It should be of concern to us that modern rates of biodiversity loss exceed the extinction rates of well-studied Cretaceous mass extinctions, including those clearly associated with large bolide impacts. Even more frightening is the prediction from the fossil record that the complex tropical ecosystems, reefs, and rain forests of today, which contain more than half of the global biodiversity, are commonly the first to disappear in ancient mass extinctions and the last to ecologically recover, some 2 to 10 m.y. later (Kauffman and Fagerstrom, 1993). These tropical ecosystems are the harbingers of the mass extinction process and long-term biological crisis on Earth. They alone, once gone, account for enough global biodiversity loss to reach mass extinction levels (>50% of global species). At the rate of global destruction today, tropical rain forests and to a lesser degree tropical reefs will be largely decimated by the year 2500, and certainly by A.D. 3000. Simberloff (1984) estimated that only 2.5% of the neotropical rainforests would remain by 2050, with a resultant loss of more than 50% of the biodiversity of the Western Hemisphere, at current rates of destruction. This may be conservative. Even so, if research on ancient mass extinctions can act as a model for the future of the modern biodiversity crisis, it may be millions of years, without human perturbation, before similar ecosystems will become reestablished in the tropics. Research on ancient mass extinction, survival, and recovery (radiation) intervals can play an important role in understanding the consequences of modern global change phenomena, and in making long-term predictions concerning the present biodiversity crisis-which is already spiraling toward mass extinction levels. REFERENCES Alvarez, W., and R. A. Muller (1984). Evidence from crater ages for periodic impacts in Earth, Nature 308, 718-720.

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GLOBAL CHANGE LEADING TO BIODIVERSITY CRISIS IN A GREENHOUSE WORLD: THE CENOMANIAN-TURONIAN 67 (CRETACEOUS) MASS EXTINCTION Kauffman, E. G., L. M. Pratt, et al. (1985). A field guide to the stratigraphy, geochemistry, and depositional environments of the Kiowa- Skull Creek, Greenhorn, and Niobrara marine cycles in the Pueblo, Canon City area, Colorado, in Fine-Grained Deposits and Biofacies of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway: Evidence of Cyclic Sedimentary Processes, L. M. Pratt, E. G. Kauffman, and F. B. Zelt, eds., Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, 2nd Annual Midyear Meeting, Golden, Colo., Field Trip Guidebook 4, pp. FRS-1-FRS-26. Kauffman, E. G., B. B. Sageman, W. P. Elder, and E. R. Gustason (1987). High-resolution event stratigraphy, Greenhorn Cyclothem (Cretaceous: Cenomanian-Turonian), Western Interior Basin of Colorado and Utah, Geological Society of America, Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, Field Guide, Boulder, Colo., 198 PP. Kauffman, E. G., W. 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GLOBAL CHANGE LEADING TO BIODIVERSITY CRISIS IN A GREENHOUSE WORLD: THE CENOMANIAN-TURONIAN 68 (CRETACEOUS) MASS EXTINCTION Raup, D. M., and J. J. Sepkoski (1986). Periodic extinctions of families and genera, Science 231, 833-836. Sageman, B. B. (1985). High-resolution stratigraphy and paleobiology of the Hartland Shale Member: Analysis of an oxygen-deficient epicontinental sea, in Fine-Grained Deposits and Biofacies of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway: Evidence of Cyclic Sedimentary Processes, L. M. Pratt, E. G. Kauffman, and F. B. Zelt, eds., Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, 2nd Annual Midyear Meeting, Golden, Colo., Field Trip Guidebook 4, pp. 110-121. Sageman, B. B. (1992). High-Resolution Event Stratigraphy, Carbon Geochemistry, and Paleobiology of the Upper Cenomanian Hartland Shale Member (Cretaceous), Greenhorn Formation, Western Interior, U. S. , Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Colorado, Boulder, 532 pp. Sageman, B. B., P. B. 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What can we expect as global change progresses? Will there be thresholds that trigger sudden shifts in environmental conditions—or that cause catastrophic destruction of life?

Effects of Past Global Change on Life explores what earth scientists are learning about the impact of large-scale environmental changes on ancient life—and how these findings may help us resolve today's environmental controversies.

Leading authorities discuss historical climate trends and what can be learned from the mass extinctions and other critical periods about the rise and fall of plant and animal species in response to global change. The volume develops a picture of how environmental change has closed some evolutionary doors while opening others—including profound effects on the early members of the human family.

An expert panel offers specific recommendations on expanding research and improving investigative tools—and targets historical periods and geological and biological patterns with the most promise of shedding light on future developments.

This readable and informative book will be of special interest to professionals in the earth sciences and the environmental community as well as concerned policymakers.

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