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Ecological Expansion and Extinction in the Late Ediacaran: Weighing the Evidence for Environmental and Biotic Drivers.
Integr Comp Biol. 2018 10 01; 58(4):688-702.IC

Abstract

The Ediacara Biota, Earth's earliest communities of complex, macroscopic, multicellular organisms, appeared during the late Ediacaran Period, just prior to the Cambrian Explosion. Ediacara fossil assemblages consist of exceptionally preserved soft-bodied forms of enigmatic morphology and affinity which nonetheless represent a critical stepping-stone in the evolution of complex animal ecosystems. The Ediacara Biota has historically been divided into three successive Assemblages-the Avalon, the White Sea, and the Nama. Although the oldest (Avalon) Assemblage documents the initial appearance of several groups of Ediacara taxa, the two younger (White Sea and Nama) Assemblages record a particularly striking suite of ecological innovations, including the appearance of diverse Ediacara body plans-in tandem with the rise of bilaterian animals-as well as the emergence of novel ecological strategies such as movement, sexual reproduction, biomineralization, and the development of dense, heterogeneous benthic communities. Many of these ecological innovations appear to be linked to adaptations to heterogeneous substrates and shallow and energetic marine settings. In spite of these innovations, the majority of Ediacara taxa disappear by the end of the Ediacaran, with interpretations for this disappearance historically ranging from the closing of preservational windows to environmentally or biotically mediated extinction. However, in spite of the unresolved affinity and eventual extinction of individual Ediacara taxa, these distinctive ecological strategies persist across the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary and are characteristic of younger animal-dominated communities of the Phanerozoic. The late Ediacaran emergence of these strategies may, therefore, have facilitated subsequent radiations of the Cambrian. In this light, the Ediacaran and Cambrian Periods, although traditionally envisioned as separate worlds, are likely to have been part of an ecological and evolutionary continuum.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, 210 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.Department of Earth Sciences, University of California, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, 210 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia. University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

Language

eng

PubMed ID

29718307

Citation

Tarhan, Lidya G., et al. "Ecological Expansion and Extinction in the Late Ediacaran: Weighing the Evidence for Environmental and Biotic Drivers." Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 58, no. 4, 2018, pp. 688-702.
Tarhan LG, Droser ML, Cole DB, et al. Ecological Expansion and Extinction in the Late Ediacaran: Weighing the Evidence for Environmental and Biotic Drivers. Integr Comp Biol. 2018;58(4):688-702.
Tarhan, L. G., Droser, M. L., Cole, D. B., & Gehling, J. G. (2018). Ecological Expansion and Extinction in the Late Ediacaran: Weighing the Evidence for Environmental and Biotic Drivers. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 58(4), 688-702. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icy020
Tarhan LG, et al. Ecological Expansion and Extinction in the Late Ediacaran: Weighing the Evidence for Environmental and Biotic Drivers. Integr Comp Biol. 2018 10 1;58(4):688-702. PubMed PMID: 29718307.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Ecological Expansion and Extinction in the Late Ediacaran: Weighing the Evidence for Environmental and Biotic Drivers. AU - Tarhan,Lidya G, AU - Droser,Mary L, AU - Cole,Devon B, AU - Gehling,James G, PY - 2018/5/3/pubmed PY - 2019/4/4/medline PY - 2018/5/3/entrez SP - 688 EP - 702 JF - Integrative and comparative biology JO - Integr Comp Biol VL - 58 IS - 4 N2 - The Ediacara Biota, Earth's earliest communities of complex, macroscopic, multicellular organisms, appeared during the late Ediacaran Period, just prior to the Cambrian Explosion. Ediacara fossil assemblages consist of exceptionally preserved soft-bodied forms of enigmatic morphology and affinity which nonetheless represent a critical stepping-stone in the evolution of complex animal ecosystems. The Ediacara Biota has historically been divided into three successive Assemblages-the Avalon, the White Sea, and the Nama. Although the oldest (Avalon) Assemblage documents the initial appearance of several groups of Ediacara taxa, the two younger (White Sea and Nama) Assemblages record a particularly striking suite of ecological innovations, including the appearance of diverse Ediacara body plans-in tandem with the rise of bilaterian animals-as well as the emergence of novel ecological strategies such as movement, sexual reproduction, biomineralization, and the development of dense, heterogeneous benthic communities. Many of these ecological innovations appear to be linked to adaptations to heterogeneous substrates and shallow and energetic marine settings. In spite of these innovations, the majority of Ediacara taxa disappear by the end of the Ediacaran, with interpretations for this disappearance historically ranging from the closing of preservational windows to environmentally or biotically mediated extinction. However, in spite of the unresolved affinity and eventual extinction of individual Ediacara taxa, these distinctive ecological strategies persist across the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary and are characteristic of younger animal-dominated communities of the Phanerozoic. The late Ediacaran emergence of these strategies may, therefore, have facilitated subsequent radiations of the Cambrian. In this light, the Ediacaran and Cambrian Periods, although traditionally envisioned as separate worlds, are likely to have been part of an ecological and evolutionary continuum. SN - 1557-7023 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/29718307/Ecological_Expansion_and_Extinction_in_the_Late_Ediacaran:_Weighing_the_Evidence_for_Environmental_and_Biotic_Drivers_ L2 - https://academic.oup.com/icb/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/icb/icy020 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -