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TitleThe invasion of the land in deep time: integrating Paleozoic records of paleobiology, ichnology, sedimentology, and geomorphology
AuthorBuatois, L A; Davies, N S; Gibling, M R; Krapovickas, V; Labandeira, C C; MacNaughton, R BORCID logo; Mángano, M G; Minter, N J; Shillito, A P
SourceIntegrative and Comparative Biology vol. 62, issue 2, 2022 p. 297-331,
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20220240
PublisherOxford University Press
Mediapaper; digital; on-line
File formatpdf
SubjectsScience and Technology; Nature and Environment; sedimentology; geophysics; paleobiology; ichnology; Geomorphology; Paleozoic
Illustrationsphotographs; diagrams; illustrations
Released2022 05 31
AbstractThe invasion of the land was a complex, protracted process, punctuated by mass extinctions, that involved multiple routes from marine environments. We integrate paleobiology, ichnology, sedimentology, and geomorphology to reconstruct Paleozoic terrestrialization. Cambrian landscapes were dominated by laterally mobile rivers with unstable banks in the absence of significant vegetation. Temporary incursions by arthropods and worm-like organisms into coastal environments apparently did not result in establishment of continental communities. Contemporaneous lacustrine faunas may have been inhibited by limited nutrient delivery and high sediment loads. The Ordovician appearance of early land plants triggered a shift in the primary locus of the global clay mineral factory, increasing the amount of mudrock on the continents. The Silurian-Devonian rise of vascular land plants, including the first forests and extensive root systems, was instrumental in further retaining fine sediment on alluvial plains. These innovations led to increased architectural complexity of braided and meandering rivers. Landscape changes were synchronous with establishment of freshwater and terrestrial arthropod faunas in overbank areas, abandoned fluvial channels, lake margins, ephemeral lakes, and inland deserts. Silurian-Devonian lakes experienced improved nutrient availability, due to increased phosphate weathering and terrestrial humic matter. All these changes favoured frequent invasions to permament establishment of jawless and jawed fishes in freshwater habitats and the subsequent tetrapod colonization of the land. The Carboniferous saw rapid diversification of tetrapods, mostly linked to aquatic reproduction, and land plants, including gymnosperms. Deeper root systems promoted further riverbank stabilization, contributing to the rise of anabranching rivers and braided systems with vegetated islands. New lineages of aquatic insects developed and expanded novel feeding modes, including herbivory. Late Paleozoic soils commonly contain pervasive root and millipede traces. Lacustrine animal communities diversified, accompanied by increased food-web complexity and improved food delivery which may have favored permanent colonization of offshore and deep-water lake environments. These trends continued in the Permian, but progressive aridification favored formation of hypersaline lakes, which were stressful for colonization. The Capitanian and end-Permian extinctions affected lacustrine and fluvial biotas, particularly the invertebrate infauna, although burrowing may have allowed some tetrapods to survive associated global warming and increased aridification.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Life on Earth originated in the oceans but eventually moved into freshwater and dry-land environments. This was a lengthy and complex process, involving multiple types of living things. Most of the stages of the process took place during the Paleozoic Era (538-252 million years ago). This paper compiles and analyzes evidence from multiple earth-science disciplines to produce a detailed reconstruction of the Paleozoic "invasion of the land" by living organisms. By the end of the Paleozoic, animals were living in nearly all non-marine environments and the evolution of land plants had fundamentally altered the character of much of non-marine sediment deposition, especially where rivers are concerned.

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