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      Suppressed competitive exclusion enabled the proliferation of Permian/Triassic boundary microbialites

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          During the earliest Triassic microbial mats flourished in the photic zones of marginal seas, generating widespread microbialites. It has been suggested that anoxic conditions in shallow marine environments, linked to the end‐Permian mass extinction, limited mat‐inhibiting metazoans allowing for this microbialite expansion. The presence of a diverse suite of proxies indicating oxygenated shallow sea‐water conditions (metazoan fossils, biomarkers and redox proxies) from microbialite successions have, however, challenged the inference of anoxic conditions. Here, the distribution and faunal composition of Griesbachian microbialites from China, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Slovenia and Hungary are investigated to determine the factors that allowed microbialite‐forming microbial mats to flourish following the end‐Permian crisis. The results presented here show that Neotethyan microbial buildups record a unique faunal association due to the presence of keratose sponges, while the Palaeotethyan buildups have a higher proportion of molluscs and the foraminifera Earlandia. The distribution of the faunal components within the microbial fabrics suggests that, except for the keratose sponges and some microconchids, most of the metazoans were transported into the microbial framework via wave currents. The presence of both microbialites and metazoan associations were limited to oxygenated settings, suggesting that a factor other than anoxia resulted in a relaxation of ecological constraints following the mass extinction event. It is inferred that the end‐Permian mass extinction event decreased the diversity and abundance of metazoans to the point of significantly reducing competition, allowing photosynthesis‐based microbial mats to flourish in shallow water settings and resulting in the formation of widespread microbialites.


          After the end‐Permian mass extinction, microbialites filled the ecological niche previously occupied by metazoan reefs. The factors that allowed microbialite‐forming microbial mats to flourish are, however, hotly debated. By investigating the faunal composition and depositional setting of Permian/Triassic boundary microbialites, we propose that the impact of the extinction event on the abundance of metazoans suppressed the biological controls that were previously excluding microbialite development from subtidal environments.

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          Most cited references 88

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          Lethally hot temperatures during the Early Triassic greenhouse.

          Global warming is widely regarded to have played a contributing role in numerous past biotic crises. Here, we show that the end-Permian mass extinction coincided with a rapid temperature rise to exceptionally high values in the Early Triassic that were inimical to life in equatorial latitudes and suppressed ecosystem recovery. This was manifested in the loss of calcareous algae, the near-absence of fish in equatorial Tethys, and the dominance of small taxa of invertebrates during the thermal maxima. High temperatures drove most Early Triassic plants and animals out of equatorial terrestrial ecosystems and probably were a major cause of the end-Smithian crisis.
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            High-precision timeline for Earth's most severe extinction.

            The end-Permian mass extinction was the most severe loss of marine and terrestrial biota in the last 542 My. Understanding its cause and the controls on extinction/recovery dynamics depends on an accurate and precise age model. U-Pb zircon dates for five volcanic ash beds from the Global Stratotype Section and Point for the Permian-Triassic boundary at Meishan, China, define an age model for the extinction and allow exploration of the links between global environmental perturbation, carbon cycle disruption, mass extinction, and recovery at millennial timescales. The extinction occurred between 251.941 ± 0.037 and 251.880 ± 0.031 Mya, an interval of 60 ± 48 ka. Onset of a major reorganization of the carbon cycle immediately precedes the initiation of extinction and is punctuated by a sharp (3‰), short-lived negative spike in the isotopic composition of carbonate carbon. Carbon cycle volatility persists for ∼500 ka before a return to near preextinction values. Decamillenial to millennial level resolution of the mass extinction and its aftermath will permit a refined evaluation of the relative roles of rate-dependent processes contributing to the extinction, allowing insight into postextinction ecosystem expansion, and establish an accurate time point for evaluating the plausibility of trigger and kill mechanisms.
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              Anomalous Carbonate Precipitates: Is the Precambrian the Key to the Permian?


                Author and article information

                Depos Rec
                Depos Rec
                The Depositional Record
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                20 November 2019
                February 2020
                : 6
                : 1 ( doiID: 10.1002/dep2.v6.1 )
                : 62-74
                [ 1 ] Museum für Naturkunde Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity Berlin Germany
                [ 2 ] Institute for Earth and Environmental Sciences University of Potsdam Potsdam‐Golm Germany
                [ 3 ] Jackson School of Geosciences University of Texas at Austin Austin TX USA
                [ 4 ] Department of Geodynamics and Sedimentology University of Vienna Vienna Austria
                [ 5 ] Department of Geology Lund University Lund Sweden
                [ 6 ] Institute of Earth Sciences Graz University Graz Austria
                [ 7 ] Geosciences Department Trinity University San Antonio TX USA
                [ 8 ] Institute of Earth Sciences Lausanne University Lausanne Switzerland
                [ 9 ] Geological Survey of Slovenia Ljubljana Slovenia
                [ 10 ] Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering University of Zagreb Zagreb Croatia
                [ 11 ] Department of Geological Sciences University of Texas at Austin Austin TX USA
                [ 12 ] Institut für Geologie Centrum für Erdsystemforschung und Nachhaltigkeit Universität Hamburg Hamburg Germany
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence

                William J. Foster, University College Dublin, School of Earth Sciences, Dublin, Ireland.

                Email: w.j.foster@ 123456gmx.co.uk

                © 2019 The Authors. The Depositional Record published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association of Sedimentologists.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 0, Pages: 13, Words: 9105
                Funded by: Marie Curie , open-funder-registry 10.13039/501100000654;
                Award ID: ET Microbialites 299293
                Funded by: Geo.X
                Award ID: SO_087_GeoX
                Funded by: Slovenian Research Agency , open-funder-registry 10.13039/501100004329;
                Award ID: P1‐0011
                Original Research Article
                Original Research Articles
                Custom metadata
                February 2020
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_JATSPMC version:5.7.5 mode:remove_FC converted:18.02.2020


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