Response of nannoplankton to early Eocene ocean destratification

Leah J. Schneider, Timothy J. Bralower, Lee R. Kump

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Nannoplankton play a significant role in the global carbon cycle; changes in the composition of the assemblage can influence primary productivity, carbon burial, and ultimately climate. Here counts of nannofossils in Eocene samples document one of the largest nannoplankton assemblage turnovers of the Cenozoic Era. This event is marked by the global expansion of Reticulofenestra at the termination of the early Eocene climatic optimum (EECO), and continues through the progressive cooling to the earliest Oligocene glaciation. To understand the mechanisms driving this assemblage shift we use multivariate statistical techniques and carbon and oxygen isotope records from localities worldwide. We find that the turnover in the global nannofossil assemblage is tied to thermal destratification of the ocean and a coincident decrease in the efficiency of the oceanic biologic pump at the height of the EECO. We propose that increased vertical mixing and increased nutrient supply to surface waters during the EECO caused a shift in the trophic structure towards enhanced productivity, influencing the global nannoplankton population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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