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Lindskog et al., 2023b

Oxygenation of the Baltoscandian shelf linked to Ordovician biodiversification

Lindskog, A., Young, S. A., Bowman, C. N., Kozik, N. P., Newby, S. M., Eriksson, M. E., Pettersson, J., Molin, E., Owens, J. D.
JournalNature Geoscience
Typearticle in journal
LitsentsCC BY 4.0


Marine biodiversity increased markedly during the Ordovician Period (~487–443 million years ago). Some intervals within the Ordovician were associated with unusually rapid and prominent rises in taxonomic richness, the reasons for which remain debated. Links between increased oxygenation and biodiversification have been proposed, although supporting marine oxygen proxy data are limited. Here we present an expansive multi-site iodine-to-calcium (I/Ca) record from Lower–Middle Ordovician marine carbonates in Baltoscandia that provides a detailed account of the spatio-temporal development of oxygen conditions across this palaeoshelf. The data document progressive oxygenation of regional seafloor environments, with well-oxygenated waters sourced from the palaeoequatorward Iapetus Ocean and peak I/Ca values (that is, dissolved oxygen concentrations) coinciding with the most pronounced biodiversity increases and ecosystem reorganizations during this time interval. This occurred while the climate cooled, global sea level dropped and carbonate deposits became regionally dominant. The results suggest that ventilation of shelves played a critical role in regulating early Palaeozoic marine biodiversity via development of ecospace and aerobic–metabolic conditions.

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