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Temperature-related body size change of marine benthic macroinvertebrates across the early Toarcian Anoxic Event

Citation

Piazza, Veronica; Ullmann, Clemens V.; Aberhan, Martin (2020), Temperature-related body size change of marine benthic macroinvertebrates across the early Toarcian Anoxic Event, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.rr4xgxd5v

Abstract

The Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (TOAE, Early Jurassic, ~182 Ma ago) was characterised by severe environmental perturbations which led to habitat degradation and extinction of marine species. Warming-induced anoxia is usually identified as main driver, but because marine life was also affected in oxygenated environments the role of raised temperature and its effects on marine life need to be addressed. Body size is a fundamental characteristic of organisms and is expected to decrease as a response to heat stress. We present quantitative size data of bivalves and brachiopods across the TOAE from oxygenated habitats in the Iberian Basin, integrated with geochemical proxy data (δ13C and δ18O), to investigate the relationship between changes in temperature and body size. We find a strong negative correlation between the mean shell size of bivalve communities and isotope-derived temperature estimates, suggesting heat stress as a main cause of body size reduction. While within-species size changes were minor, we identify changes in the abundance of differently sized species as the dominant mechanism of reduced community shell size during the TOAE. Brachiopods experienced a wholesale turnover across the early warming phase and were replaced by a virtually monotypic assemblage of a smaller-sized, opportunistic species.

Methods

Quantitative bed-by-bed sampling performed by consistently collecting the same amount of bulk rock for each sample. Fossils of benthic macroinvertebrates (brachiopods and bivalves) were identified preferentially at species level. Shell size measurements (length and heigth) obtained in the field and/or after preparation.

Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: AB 09/10-1

UK Natural Environment Research Council , Award: NE/N018508/1