Project 572 - Permian-Triassic Ecosystems
Many marine ecosystems are under threat at the present day. This is nothing new, as the marine realm has suffered major extinction and upheaval on numerous occasions over the geological past, the most serious of which occurred during the Permian-Triassic transition. Of the major factors supposed to have caused the Permian-Triassic biotic crisis, such as increased carbon dioxide concentrations, oceanic anoxia, hypercapnia (CO2 poisoning) and rapid global warming, some are observed in the present day, and others may happen in the near future. The Permian-Triassic rock and fossil records may thus record a natural experiment in global-scale ecosystem collapse that, if properly deciphered, could provide an insight into the possible responses of modern marine ecosystems to present day climate and environmental change. This links into current global concerns and issues such as the “sustainable use of global biodiversity”, “biodiversity response to global warming” and “keeping our planet environmentally sustainable”.
The proposal aims to investigate the recovery of marine ecosystems following the Permian/Triassic (P/Tr) mass extinction through analyses of the rock and fossil records of South China, Tibet, elsewhere in Asia, eastern Europe, Russia, Japan, Canada, Greenland, Spitsbergen, western US, western Australia and New Zealand. Through detailed studies of Early Triassic biostratigraphy, palaeontology, palaeoecology, sedimentology, geochemistry and biogeochemistry in the above regions, this project will attempt to formulate recovery patterns of various fossil groups; to reconstruct the global Early Triassic oceanic and climatic conditions; to construct a database of P/Tr ecosystem types; and to correlate all of this data in a global stratigraphic framework. Ultimately, this project will reveal the patterns and processes of marine ecosystem restoration following the P/Tr mass extinction; will elucidate the factors controlling the recovery rates of marine communities in various habitats and climate zones; will determine the similarities and differences in the responses of different marine groups to biotic crisis; and will assess the effects of climate or other geological events on the restoration of the defaunated marine ecosystems.
These goals will be achieved primarily by collaborative fieldwork in key Early Triassic successions in more than 10 different countries over five years and related laboratory work in over 20 different countries. The results of our project, which are to be published in four edited books and special volumes, in international peer-reviewed journals, in annual symposium proceedings and on the world-wide-web, will advance scientific understanding of the interactions between the biosphere and geosphere and lead to a better understanding of ancient defaunation events. The firm support and active involvement in this project of most top scientists in this field from around the world will lead to unique training opportunities for postgraduate students from a range of countries (Argentina, Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, France, Germany, Iran, India, Switzerland, UK, USA) as well as professionals from developing and developed regions alike. As a result, the proposed project will provide a friendly platform for participants to communicate their own research results and also bring together global experts, and research facilities to solve a truly global-scale problem. The competitive track records of the proposers underscore this project’s high chance of academic success as well as its potential to achieve significant societal benefits in the form of knowledge sharing and enhanced scientific cooperation between nations.