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Paleobiogeographical extinction patterns of Permian brachiopods in the Asian–western Pacific region

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 April 2016

Shen Shu-Zhong
Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 39 East Beijing Road, Nanjing 210008, P. R. China. E-mail:
G. R. Shi
School of Ecology and Environment, Deakin University, Melbourne Campus, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia. E-mail:


Spatial and temporal variations in biological diversity are critical in understanding the role of biogeographical regulation (if any) on mass extinctions. An analysis based on a latest database of the stratigraphic ranges of 89 Permian brachiopod families, 422 genera, and 2059 species within the Boreal, Paleoequatorial, and Gondwanan Realms in the Asian–western Pacific region suggests two discrete mass extinctions, each possibly with different causes. Using species/family rarefaction analysis, we constructed diversity curves for late Artinskian–Kungurian, Roadian–Wordian, Capitanian, and Wuchiapingian intervals for filtering out uneven sampling intensities. The end-Changhsingian (latest Permian) extinction eliminated 87–90% of genera and 94–96% of species of Brachiopoda. The timing of the end-Changhsingian extinction of brachiopods in the carbonate settings of South China and southern Tibet indicates that brachiopods suffered a rapid extinction within a short interval just below the Permian/Triassic boundary.

In comparison, the end-Guadalupian/late Guadalupian extinction is less profound and varies temporally in different realms. Brachiopods in the western Pacific sector of the Boreal Realm nearly disappeared by the end-Guadalupian but experienced a relatively long-term press extinction spanning the entire Guadalupian in the Gondwanan Realm. The end-Guadalupian brachiopod diversity fall is not well reflected at the timescale used here in the Paleoequatorial Realm because the life-depleted early Wuchiapingian was overlapped by a rapid radiation phase in the late Wuchiapingian. The Guadalupian fall appears to be related to the dramatic reduction of habitat area for the brachiopods, which itself is associated with the withdrawal of seawater from continental Pangea and the closure of the Sino-Mongolian seaway by the end-Guadalupian.

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