An increasing number of unexpectedly diverse benthic communities are being reported from microbially-precipitated carbonate facies in shallow-marine platform settings after the end-Permian mass extinction. Ostracoda, which was one of the most diverse and abundant metazoan groups during this interval, recorded their greatest diversity and abundance associated with these facies. Previous studies, however, focused mainly on their taxonomic diversity and, therefore, left room for discussion of paleoecological significance. Here, we apply a morphometric method (semi-landmarks) to investigate morphological variance through time to better understand the ecological consequences of the end-Permian mass extinction, and to examine the hypothesis that microbial mats played a key role in ostracod survival. Our results show that taxonomic diversity and morphological disparity were decoupled during the end-Permian extinction, and that morphological disparity declined rapidly at the onset of the end-Permian extinction, even though the high diversity of ostracods initially survived in some places. The decoupled changes in taxonomic diversity and morphological disparity suggest that the latter is a more robust proxy for understanding the ecological impact of the extinction event, and the low morphological disparity of ostracod faunas is a consequence of sustained environmental stress or a delayed post-Permian radiation. Furthermore, the similar morphological disparity of ostracods between microbialite and non-microbialite facies indicates that microbial mats most likely represent a taphonomic window rather than a biological refuge during the end-Permian extinction interval.
|Date made available||2 Nov 2020|