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Apparent versus real biotic effects of transgressions and regressions

  • David Jablonski (a1)

Abstract

In evaluating the biotic effects of transgressions and regression, care must be taken to ensure that observed patterns are not simply an artifact of the location of available stratigraphic sections along an ancient onshore-offshore gradient of adaptive types. Analysis of Recent bivalves suggests that very nearshore benthic assemblages are dominated by species that are geographically more widespread, are more eurytopic, and more often have planktotrophic larvae than species in offshore assemblages (Jackson 1974; Jablonski and Valentine 1980); this pattern may serve as a null hypothesis for paleobiogeographic analysis. Late Cretaceous bivalve and gastropod faunas of the Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plain exhibit decreasing levels of endemism and increasing mean geographic range over the course of regression and return to high levels of endemism and low mean geographic range with the succeeding transgression. In addition, species with longer durations are more frequent at peak regression, while geologically shorter-lived species are more prevalent at peak transgression. As seen in Recent examples, the molluscan assemblages from nearshore facies have a higher proportion of species with broad environmental tolerances and planktotrophic larvae, and thus more extensive geographic and stratigraphic ranges, than do the more offshore shelf assemblages. Because late regressive phases are represented only by very nearshore facies, these directional changes in biogeographic and evolutionary characteristics are most parsimoniously interpreted as a reflection of the nature of the facies available for sampling rather than biotic effects of transgression and regression.

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