Acritarchs, the fossilizable, resting cysts of phytoplanktonic algal protists, are the dominant component of marine organic-walled microfossils in the Palaeozoic. The majority of acritarchs show strong similarities with dinoflagellate cysts in morphological and biogeochemical features, as well as distributional patterns in the sediments. The production of these organic-walled microfossils and their distribution and survivorship in the sediments were controlled by differences in ecological tolerances and life cycle (autecology) of the planktonic parent organisms. Calculation of evolutionary rates and development of a detailed diversity curve at specific level, form the basis for discussing the influence of global palaeoenvironmental perturbations on the evolution of organic-walled microphytoplankton in northern Gondwana during latest Cambrian through Ordovician times. The potential of acritarchs for biostratigraphic correlation at the regional scale (northern Gondwana domain) is much improved by our detailed revision of distributional patterns of 245 acritarch taxa. The most important Cambro-Ordovician acritarch bio-events are short periods of diversification, which also correspond to introduction of morphological innovations, observed in latest Cambrian and earliest Tremadoc, late Tremadoc, early Arenig, basal Llanvirn, and latest Ashgill, and an important extinction phase in the early Caradoc. Overall, acritarch diversity increased from the basal Ordovician up to the middle Llanvirn, then declined in the early and middle Caradoc. During Ashgill times, the assemblages are poorly diversified at the generic level as a result of a combined effect of sea level drawdown and onset of glacial conditions, but no major extinction event is observed in connection with the end-Ordovician biotic crisis. The peak in acritarch diversity during Middle Ordovician times appears to be correlated to maximum spread of palaeogeographical assembly. Acritarch dynamics appear largely uncorrelated to second order sea-level oscillations; the primary abiotic controls on acritarch evolution were palaeogeographical and the associated palaeoceanographic changes (especially during Middle Ordovician), and the end-Ordovician palaeoclimatic shift. The acritarch fossil record provides important information on the evolution of oceanic primary producers, however, the relationships between acritarch diversity, oceanic productivity, and evolution of invertebrate animals are proving much more complex than previously thought. In particular, the hypothesis of a causal relationship between changes in acritarch diversity and metazoan evolution in the Palaeozoic is not supported by our data. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Biostratigraphy, taxonomic diversity and patterns of morphological evolution of Ordovician acritarchs (organic-walled microphytoplankton) from the northern Gondwana margin in relation to palaeoclimatic and palaeogeographic changes

VECOLI, MARCO;
2004-01-01

Abstract

Acritarchs, the fossilizable, resting cysts of phytoplanktonic algal protists, are the dominant component of marine organic-walled microfossils in the Palaeozoic. The majority of acritarchs show strong similarities with dinoflagellate cysts in morphological and biogeochemical features, as well as distributional patterns in the sediments. The production of these organic-walled microfossils and their distribution and survivorship in the sediments were controlled by differences in ecological tolerances and life cycle (autecology) of the planktonic parent organisms. Calculation of evolutionary rates and development of a detailed diversity curve at specific level, form the basis for discussing the influence of global palaeoenvironmental perturbations on the evolution of organic-walled microphytoplankton in northern Gondwana during latest Cambrian through Ordovician times. The potential of acritarchs for biostratigraphic correlation at the regional scale (northern Gondwana domain) is much improved by our detailed revision of distributional patterns of 245 acritarch taxa. The most important Cambro-Ordovician acritarch bio-events are short periods of diversification, which also correspond to introduction of morphological innovations, observed in latest Cambrian and earliest Tremadoc, late Tremadoc, early Arenig, basal Llanvirn, and latest Ashgill, and an important extinction phase in the early Caradoc. Overall, acritarch diversity increased from the basal Ordovician up to the middle Llanvirn, then declined in the early and middle Caradoc. During Ashgill times, the assemblages are poorly diversified at the generic level as a result of a combined effect of sea level drawdown and onset of glacial conditions, but no major extinction event is observed in connection with the end-Ordovician biotic crisis. The peak in acritarch diversity during Middle Ordovician times appears to be correlated to maximum spread of palaeogeographical assembly. Acritarch dynamics appear largely uncorrelated to second order sea-level oscillations; the primary abiotic controls on acritarch evolution were palaeogeographical and the associated palaeoceanographic changes (especially during Middle Ordovician), and the end-Ordovician palaeoclimatic shift. The acritarch fossil record provides important information on the evolution of oceanic primary producers, however, the relationships between acritarch diversity, oceanic productivity, and evolution of invertebrate animals are proving much more complex than previously thought. In particular, the hypothesis of a causal relationship between changes in acritarch diversity and metazoan evolution in the Palaeozoic is not supported by our data. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/77134
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