Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2974
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2974
26 Jan 2024
 | 26 Jan 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Ideas and perspectives: Human impacts alter the marine fossil record

Rafał Nawrot, Martin Zuschin, Adam Tomašových, Michał Kowalewski, and Daniele Scarponi

Abstract. The youngest fossil record is a crucial source of data documenting the recent history of marine ecosystems and their long-term alteration by humans. However, human activities that reshape communities and habitats also alter sedimentary and biological processes that control the formation of the sedimentary archives recording those impacts. These diverse physical, geochemical, and biological disturbances include changes in sediment fluxes due to the alteration of alluvial and coastal landscapes, seabed disturbance by bottom trawling and ship traffic, ocean acidification and deoxygenation, removal of native species, and introduction of invasive ecosystem engineers. These novel processes modify sedimentation rates, depth and intensity of sediment mixing, pore water saturation state, and preservation potential of skeletal remains – the parameters controlling the completeness and spatiotemporal resolution of the fossil record. We argue that humans have become a major force transforming the nature of the marine fossil record in ways that can both impede and improve our ability to reconstruct past ecological and climate dynamics. A better understanding of the feedback between human impacts on ecosystem processes and their preservation in the marine fossil record offers new research opportunities and novel tools for interpreting geohistorical archives of the ongoing anthropogenic transformation of the coastal ocean.

Rafał Nawrot, Martin Zuschin, Adam Tomašových, Michał Kowalewski, and Daniele Scarponi

Status: open (until 10 Mar 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2974', Moriaki Yasuhara, 05 Feb 2024 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2974', Anonymous Referee #2, 10 Feb 2024 reply
Rafał Nawrot, Martin Zuschin, Adam Tomašových, Michał Kowalewski, and Daniele Scarponi
Rafał Nawrot, Martin Zuschin, Adam Tomašových, Michał Kowalewski, and Daniele Scarponi

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Short summary
The youngest fossil record is a crucial source of data on the history of marine ecosystems and their long-term alteration by humans. However, human activities that reshape ecosystems also alter sedimentary and biological processes that control the formation of the geological archives recording those impacts. Thus, humans have been transforming the marine fossil record in ways that affect our ability to reconstruct past ecological and climate dynamics.