10 million years needed to recover from mass extinction

May 27, 2012
10 million years needed to recover from mass extinction
Illustration of a microbe-dominated ecosystem immediately after the end-Permian period of mass extinction. Image by John Sibbick

(Phys.org) -- It took some 10 million years for Earth to recover from the greatest mass extinction of all time, latest research has revealed.

Life was nearly wiped out 250 million years ago, with only 10 per cent of surviving. It is currently much debated how life recovered from this cataclysm, whether quickly or slowly.

Recent evidence for a rapid bounce-back is evaluated in a new review article by Dr Zhong-Qiang Chen, from the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, and Professor Michael Benton from the University of Bristol. They find that recovery from the crisis lasted some 10 million years, as explained today in Nature Geoscience.

There were apparently two reasons for the delay, the sheer intensity of the crisis, and continuing grim conditions on Earth after the first wave of extinction.

The end-Permian crisis, by far the most dramatic biological crisis to affect , was triggered by a number of physical environmental shocks - global warming, , ocean acidification and ocean anoxia. These were enough to kill off 90 per cent of living things on land and in the sea.

Dr Chen said: "It is hard to imagine how so much of life could have been killed, but there is no doubt from some of the fantastic rock sections in China and elsewhere round the world that this was the biggest crisis ever faced by life."

Current research shows that the grim conditions continued in bursts for some five to six million years after the initial crisis, with repeated carbon and oxygen crises, warming and other ill effects.

Some on the sea and land did recover quickly and began to rebuild their ecosystems, but they suffered further setbacks. Life had not really recovered in these early phases because permanent ecosystems were not established.

Professor Benton, Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol, said: "Life seemed to be getting back to normal when another crisis hit and set it back again. The carbon crises were repeated many times, and then finally conditions became normal again after five million years or so."

Finally, after the environmental crises ceased to be so severe, more complex ecosystems emerged. In the sea, new groups, such as ancestral crabs and lobsters, as well as the first marine reptiles, came on the scene, and they formed the basis of future modern-style ecosystems.

Professor Benton added: "We often see mass extinctions as entirely negative but in this most devastating case, did recover, after many millions of years, and new groups emerged. The event had re-set evolution. However, the causes of the killing - global warming, acid rain, - sound eerily familiar to us today. Perhaps we can learn something from these ancient events."

Explore further: Massive debris pile reveals risk of huge tsunamis in Hawaii

More information: 'The timing and pattern of biotic recovery following the end-Permian mass extinction' Nature Geoscience, May 27, 2012. DOI:10.1038/NGEO1475

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Vendicar_Decarian
3.5 / 5 (8) May 27, 2012
Biologists are anticipating that Global Warming will with the aid of natural habitat loss, result in the extinction of 30% of all species on earth.
pubwvj
4 / 5 (4) May 27, 2012
Extinctions open up niches. WIth us around to add that elusive 'intelligent designing' hand we may be able to move more quickly. After all, as a farmer I'm constantly doing intense selective breeding to produce animals and plants that fit our farm's needs. I bet I can get recovery in 1 million years or less. Especially if we can cut through the bureaucratic red tape! :)
210
1 / 5 (4) May 28, 2012
Biologists are anticipating that Global Warming will with the aid of natural habitat loss, result in the extinction of 30% of all species on earth.

Vendi- After just a cursory examination of some of my biosphere-type charts, I cannot see any group of beings, flora, or fauna, surviving A 30% LOSS OF AN UNDERPINNING ECO-GROUP. I AM SAYING, 30% PUTS US PAST THE TIPPING POINT almost universally! We would be on a very steep decline, not quite a vertical dive into oblivion....Vendi- give me some stoic feedback here...you have GOT to be wrong...I hope,,,be wrong Vendi- Be wrong Vendi- Vendi...be wrong...!

word-to-ya-muthas
Vendicar_Decarian
3.4 / 5 (5) May 28, 2012
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) May 28, 2012
Yes. The coming extinction of the Conservative/Libertarian species will not only provide new niches, but also provide much needed nutrients to farm fields.

"Extinctions open up niches." - pubwvj
210
1 / 5 (5) May 28, 2012
"... In Costa Rica, toucans normally confined to lower elevations are colonizing mountain forests, where they compete with resident species for food and nesting holes, and prey on the eggs and nestlings of other bird species..."

Vendi- it is not a just, say, 30% of one little thing, it is a statistical 30%. It is spread across families, whole families of the biological fabric...30% of this and 30% of that...and with these gaping holes in the ecosystem..the whole thing begins to fall apart...this planet cannot support THAT kind of damage.
"...Topography itself is a major issue. Each bird species is only found between specific elevations, limits based mainly on the temperatures at which it can survive and the presence of the plants, insects and other animals on which it feeds. .." AND those plants & insects are NOT just sitting there waiting to meet their new masters...Adaptive evolution needs time, TIME to make the new top feeder BUT warming has not stopped, warming is happening..
210
1 / 5 (4) May 28, 2012
Faster than adaptive evolution can work, MUCH faster. The tear in the fabric is, "...The worst-case scenario of 6.4 degrees Celsius surface warming combined with extensive habitat loss produced the estimate of 30 percent of land bird species going extinct by 2100..."and the new stuff that must fill this void is still bound by biological principles attempting to negotiating the narrowing road of warming and the laws of physics - the road narrows 2 fast! It is like the effects on our technology of a limited nuke exchange in war. A limited strike, can annihilate whole sectors of technology by crushing the SPECIALIZED knowledge base, leaving much knowledge and people but removing the ability of the human populace to reproduce critical data because the 'cost' to restore silicon valley/ intel's fabs, etc, is energetically/financially TOO HIGH! The special data, in habit/environment can't get traction cause the damage/radiation, is too specific/targeted & outruns recovery, 30% is 2 high...
210
1 / 5 (4) May 28, 2012
"...Additional threats include interactions between the rising temperatures and other environmental factors. For example, as Hawaiian mountains get warmer, mosquitoes carrying avian malaria, to which most native bird species have no immunity, are moving upslope, invading the last refuges of birds already on the brink of extinction..."
Clearly the article and the data support the notion of a cascading effect - a TIPPING point - at the worst case scenario of 30%..damage that great simply may not be survivable, the article further states, "...The study also has shown that sedentary birds, which comprise over 80 percent of all bird species, are much more likely to go extinct from climate change than are migratory birds. That suggests that many sedentary mountain species currently thought to be safe are actually jeopardized by global warming..."
Finally, the author terms the effect as a"escalator to" doom, I called it a slide-oops- my bad..duh!
word-to-ya-muthas
210
1 / 5 (4) May 28, 2012
Vendi- from a related article that refers to the Permian Mass Extinction, http://phys.org/n...271.html

LOOK at the change in reptilian locomotion before and after the PME... how STRIKING is this!?! What triggered this? The only thing left after the PME was microbes, microscopic life, by EVERYONE'S estimation.
It is as if, someone came to work one day, a Monday...did not like what they did on Friday, pushed everything off the drawing board/table into the garbage, and said, " I'll keep the scales, the forked tongue and some other stuff and make these things easier to see, and hear...but the Blue Whale will be the biggest of all time...incredible...they adapted?...hummm..?
word-
davhaywood
3 / 5 (4) May 28, 2012
It is EXTREMELY hard to predict species loss. The 30% number is likely an underestimation, because extinction tends to snowball once started. For example, if one species of flower becomes extinct, any other animal or plant that had co-evolved along with it will likely go extinct, too as they won't have enough time to re-adapt to new conditions. Also, habitat destruction and fragmentation can cause unforeseeable runaway species loss. Moreover, AGW is only one part of the puzzle. Invasive species are significantly weakening the hardiness of ecosystems and since we are becoming a more and more globalized and therefore homogenized planet, the reduced diversity means that there are fewer species which have the possibility of recovering and replacing those lost in a mass extinction event. I'll charge that extinctions and ecosystems are such dynamic systems that they are about as tough to predict as the weather on a long-term basis.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) May 28, 2012
Invasive species are significantly weakening the hardiness of ecosystems

The invading species is more hardy. Quite natural.
davhaywood
5 / 5 (4) May 28, 2012
The species itself is, but the ecosystem as a result will not be. Biodiversity=hardiness for an ecosystem. If a change in climate effects that one type of invasive species which now dominates the ecosystem, where there used to be greater diversity, then there won't be as many options to replace once it is gone. I apologize if I wasn't clear.
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) May 28, 2012
The species itself is, but the ecosystem as a result will not be. Biodiversity=hardiness for an ecosystem. If a change in climate effects that one type of invasive species which now dominates the ecosystem, where there used to be greater diversity, then there won't be as many options to replace once it is gone. I apologize if I wasn't clear.

Nature abhors a vacuum.
davhaywood
4.2 / 5 (5) May 28, 2012
What are you implying? Are you making an argument, or not? If you are, please share it so that I may understand it in its entirety, rather than making cryptic, smug comments.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) May 28, 2012
I am implying that you are full of it.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) May 28, 2012
First you say this:
"It is EXTREMELY hard to predict species loss. "
then this:
"habitat destruction and fragmentation can cause unforeseeable runaway species loss"
"I'll charge that extinctions and ecosystems are such dynamic systems that they are about as tough to predict as the weather on a long-term basis."
And then you say an eco-system won't be hardy.
Which is it if it is so hard to predict?
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (4) May 28, 2012
And what is space, Tard Boy?

"Nature abhors a vacuum." - RyggTard
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (3) May 28, 2012
RyggTard just won't accept bad news. It just doesn't politically exist for him.

Someone should burn his house down and see how he reacts. It might cause him to leave his home planet, Conservadopia, for a few seconds.

"I am implying that you are full of it." - RyggTard

Alternately someone could try knocking the tinfoil cap off of his head and watch the reaction.
wwqq
5 / 5 (5) May 29, 2012
Nature abhors a vacuum.


Evangelista Torricelli would like to have a word with you.
davhaywood
5 / 5 (2) Jun 01, 2012
I'd explain myself to you ryggesogn2, but I'm sure it would go in one ear and out the other. You're a real piece of work, aren't you?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2012
I'd explain myself to you ryggesogn2, but I'm sure it would go in one ear and out the other. You're a real piece of work, aren't you?

You explained yourself quite well, you have no idea what will happen.
MandoZink
5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2012
Biologists are anticipating that Global Warming will with the aid of natural habitat loss, result in the extinction of 30% of all species on earth.

I think our tendency to ignore natural habitat loss alone could do more harm faster than any warming may soon cause. We think since were smarter, it MUST be ours to use and obliterate.

"It is a mistake to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort." - Isaac Asimov

I do hope 30% would be a worse-case scenario that we fail to reach. I know I'll be dead by then.

"The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists."
"There are no happy endings in history, only crisis points that pass." - also Isaac Asimov
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2012
Habitat loss is the principle means by which species will be lost as the warming continues. Plants and animals that are now isolated in regions without migratory paths due to surrounding cities roads and farms, will simply vanish as their local natural climatological environment vanishes.

"I think our tendency to ignore natural habitat loss alone could do more harm faster than any warming may soon cause." - MandoZink

The issue of warming is not a scientific one. The science has been long settled grade school level science for the last 150 years.

The issue is a moral one, with those who demand that needless economic consumption is more significant than sentient wildlife and the plants that maintain them, being the most evil group of people imaginable.

Their extinction is paramount.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Jun 04, 2012
"Humans take place at top of food chain, eat crawdads to help Tahoe's ecosystem"
http://phys.org/n...hoe.html
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2012
There are an odd number of cannibals surfacing in America these days.

They are examples of "free thinking" in a dying society.
210
1 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2012
Habitat loss is the principle means by which species will be lost as the warming continues. Plants and animals that are now isolated in regions without migratory paths due to surrounding cities roads and farms, will simply vanish as their local natural climatological environment vanishes.

"I think our tendency to ignore natural habitat loss alone could do more harm faster than any warming may soon cause." - MandoZink

The issue of warming is not a scientific one. The science has been long settled grade school level science for the last 150 years.

The issue is a moral one, with those who demand that needless economic consumption is more significant than sentient wildlife and the plants that maintain them, being the most evil group of people imaginable.

Their extinction is paramount.

THERE YOU GO AGAIN VENDI...borderline genius with a touch of timely quotation...you scare me sometimes...you're damn near human!