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Ecological consequences of the Guadalupian extinction and its role in the brachiopod-mollusk transition


The Guadalupian (middle Permian) extinction may have triggered substantial ecological restructuring in level-bottom communities, such as turnover in dominant brachiopod genera or a shift from abundant brachiopods to mollusks, despite comparatively minor taxonomic losses. However, ecological changes in relative abundance have been inferred from limited data; as a result, constraints on important shifts like the brachiopod-mollusk transition are imprecise. Here, I reevaluate the magnitude of ecological shifts during the Guadalupian-Lopingian (G-L) interval by supplementing previous census counts of silicified assemblages with counts from non-silicified assemblages and global occurrence data, both sourced from the Paleobiology Database. Brachiopod occurrences are consistent with more pronounced faunal composition changes from the Guadalupian to Lopingian than among stages within those intervals, but only in Iran and South China, and not in Pakistan or a Tethys-wide data set. In Iran and South China, Bray-Curtis dissimilarity values comparing occurrence frequencies between adjacent stages were elevated across the G-L transition, although other intervals exhibited similarly large shifts. However, genus occurrence frequencies were less strongly correlated or were anti-correlated across the G-L transition, suggesting moderate faunal turnover among dominant brachiopod genera. In contrast to previous inferences from silicified faunas, abundances of brachiopods, bivalves, and gastropods remained consistent from the Guadalupian to Lopingian in non-silicified local counts and global occurrences, implying that the brachiopod-mollusk shift did not occur until the end-Permian extinction. Ecological and taxonomic consequences were both minor in level-bottom settings, suggesting that severe environmental perturbations may not be necessary to explain biotic changes during the Guadalupian-Lopingian transition.

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