Deep-Sea Biodiversity Response to Abrupt Deglacial and Holocene Climate Changes

Monday, 15 December 2014: 1:40 PM
Moriaki Yasuhara, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
High-resolution records of microfossil assemblages from deep-sea sediment cores covering the last 20,000 years in the North Atlantic Ocean were investigated to understand biotic responses to abrupt climate changes over decadal–centennial timescales. The results show pervasive control of deep-sea benthic species diversity by rapidly changing climate. Species diversity rapidly increased during abrupt stadial events during the last deglacial and the Holocene interglacial periods. These included the well-known Heinrich 1, the Younger Dryas, and the 8.2 ka events when the strength of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) decreased. In addition, there is evidence for quasi-cyclic changes in biodiversity at a ~1500-year periodicity. Statistical analyses revealed that AMOC-driven bottom-water-temperature variability is a primary influence on deep-sea biodiversity. Our results may portend pervasive, synchronous and sudden ecosystem responses to human-induced changes to climate and ocean circulation in this century. Exceptionally highly resolved fossil records help us to understand past, present and future ecosystem responses to climate changes by bridging the gap between biological and palaeontological time-scales.