19 Sep 2022
19 Sep 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Paleoecology and evolutionary response of planktonic foraminifera to the Plio-Pleistocene Intensification of Northern Hemisphere Glaciations

Adam Woodhouse1,2, Frances A. Procter1, Sophie L. Jackson1, Robert A. Jamieson1, Robert J. Newton1, Philip F. Sexton3, and Tracy Aze1 Adam Woodhouse et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, U.K.
  • 2University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, 78758, U.S.A.
  • 3School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Open University, Walton Hall, Kents Hill, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, U.K.

Abstract. The Plio-Pleistocene is associated with many important climatic and paleoceanographic changes which have shaped the biotic and abiotic nature of the modern world. The closure of the Central American Seaway and the development and intensification of northern hemisphere icesheets had profound global impacts on the latitudinal and vertical structure of the oceans triggering the extinction and radiation of many marine groups. In particular, marine calcifying planktonic foraminifera, that are sensitive to water column structure, exhibited a series of extinctions as global temperatures fell. By analyzing high-resolution (~5 kyr) sedimentary records from the Eastern Equatorial Pacific Ocean, complimented with global records from the novel Triton dataset, we document the biotic changes in this microfossil group, within which three species displayed isochronous co-extinction, and species with cold-water affinity increase in dominance. We suggest that these changes are associated with the terminal stages of the closure of the Central American Seaway and mark the initiation of a world in which cold- and deep-dwelling species became increasingly more successful.

Adam Woodhouse et al.

Status: open (until 31 Oct 2022)

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Adam Woodhouse et al.


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Short summary
In this study, we looked into the regional and global response of planktonic foraminifera, single celled organisms which exhibits the best fossil record available to science, to the paleoclimate over the last 5 million years, when the Earth developed its northern icesheets. We document an increasing abundance of species which occupy cold waters. Moreover, closer analysis of certain species may indicate higher fossil diversity than previously thought, with implications for evolutionary studies.