National Academies Press: OpenBook

Effects of Past Global Change on Life (1995)

Chapter:Front Matter

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1995. Effects of Past Global Change on Life. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4762.
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i STUDIES IN GEOPHYSICS Effects of Past Global Change on Life Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1995

ii NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose mem- bers are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engi- neering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organiza- tion of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering pro- grams aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appro- priate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and of advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this activity was provided by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Effects of past global change on life / Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, National Research Council. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-05127-4 1. Paleoecology. 2. Paleoclimatology. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Board on Earth Sciences and Resources. QE720.E32 1994 560'.45—dc20 94-38695 Copyright 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

iii Panel on Effects of Past Global Change on Life STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University, Chairman JAMES P. KENNETT, University of California, Santa Barbara, Co-Vice Chairman ANDREW H. KNOLL, Harvard University, Co-Vice Chairman ROSEMARY A. ASKIN, University of California, Riverside ERIC J. BARRON, Pennsylvania State University WILLIAM B. BERRY, University of California, Berkeley DAVID C. CHRISTOPHEL, University of Adelaide, Australia WILLIAM A. DIMICHELE, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution BENJAMIN P. FLOWER, University of California, Santa Barbara ERLE G. KAUFFMAN, University of Colorado GERTA KELLER, Princeton University WILLIAM F. RUDDIMAN, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory ROBERT A. SPICER, Oxford University, U.K. S. DAVID WEBB, University of Florida THOMPSON WEBB III, Brown University Staff THOMAS M. USSELMAN, Associate Director JUDITH ESTEP, Administrative Assistant

iv

v Board on Earth Sciences and Resources FREEMAN GILBERT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif., Chair GAIL M. ASHLEY, Rutgers University, Piscataway, N.J. THURE CERLING, University of Utah, Salt Lake City MARK P. CLOOS, University of Texas at Austin NEVILLE G.W. COOK, University of California, Berkeley JOEL DARMSTADTER, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. DONALD J. DEPAOLO, University of California, Berkeley MARCO EINAUDI, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. NORMAN H. FOSTER, Independent Petroleum Geologist, Denver, Colo. CHARLES G. GROAT, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge DONALD C. HANEY, Kentucky Geological Survey, Lexington ANDREW H. KNOLL, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. PHILIP E. LAMOREAUX, P.E. LaMoreaux and Associates, Inc., Tuscaloosa, Ala. SUSAN LANDON, Thomasson Partner Associates, Denver, Colo. MARCIA K. McNUTT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge J. BERNARD MINSTER, University of California, San Diego JILL D. PASTERIS, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. EDWARD C. ROY, JR., Trinity University, San Antonio, Tex. Staff JONATHAN G. PRICE, Staff Director THOMAS M. USSELMAN, Associate Staff Director WILLIAM E. BENSON, Senior Program Officer KEVIN CROWLEY, Senior Program Officer ANNE LINN, Program Officer

vi LALLY A. ANDERSON, Staff Assistant JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant JUDITH L. ESTEP, Administrative Assistant SHELLEY MYERS, Project Assistant

vii Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources M. GORDON WOLMAN, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., Chairman PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pa. JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Canada WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas at Austin EDWARD A. FRIEMAN, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, LaJolla, Calif. GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville W. BARCLAY KAMB, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena PERRY L. McCARTY, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN SILBERGELD, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, D.C. STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parson, Tallahassee, Fla. EDITH BROWN WEISS, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C. Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director MORGAN GOPNIK, Assistant Executive Director JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate

viii

STUDIES IN GEOPHYSICS ix Studies in Geophysics* ENERGY AND CLIMATE Roger R. Revelle, panel chairman, 1977, 158 pp. ESTUARIES, GEOPHYSICS, AND THE ENVIRONMENT Charles B. Officer, panel chairman, 1977, 127 pp. CLIMATE, CLIMATIC CHANGE, AND WATER SUPPLY James R. Wallis, panel chairman, 1977, 132 pp. THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE AND MAGNETOSPHERE Francis S. Johnson, panel chairman, 1977, 168 pp. GEOPHYSICAL PREDICTIONS Helmut E. Landsberg, panel chairman, 1978, 215 pp. IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON GEOPHYSICS Homer E. Newell, panel chairman, 1979, 136 pp. CONTINENTAL TECTONICS B. Clark Burchfiel, Jack E. Oliver, and Leon T. Silver, panel co-chairmen, 1980, 197 pp. MINERAL RESOURCES: GENETIC UNDERSTANDING FOR PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS Paul B. Barton, Jr., panel chairman, 1981, 119 pp. SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF WATER-RESOURCE MANAGEMENT Myron B. Fiering, panel chairman, 1982, 127 pp. SOLAR VARIABILITY, WEATHER, AND CLIMATE John A. Eddy, panel chairman, 1982, 104 pp. CLIMATE IN EARTH HISTORY Wolfgang H. Berger and John C. Crowell, panel co-chairmen, 1982, 198 pp. * Published to date.

STUDIES IN GEOPHYSICS x FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH ON ESTUARIES: THE IMPORTANCE OF AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH L. Eugene Cronin and Charles B. Officer, panel co-chairmen, 1983, 79 pp. EXPLOSIVE VOLCANISM: INCEPTION, EVOLUTION, AND HAZARDS Francis R. Boyd, panel chairman, 1984, 176 pp. GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION John D. Bredehoeft, panel chairman, 1984, 179 pp. ACTIVE TECTONICS Robert E. Wallace, panel chairman, 1986, 266 pp. THE EARTH'S ELECTRICAL ENVIRONMENT E. Philip Krider and Raymond G. Roble, panel co-chairmen, 1986, 263 pp. SEA-LEVEL CHANGES Roger Revelle, panel chairman, 1990, 217 pp. THE ROLE OF FLUIDS IN CRUSTAL PROCESSES John D. Bredehoeft and Denis L. Norton, panel co-chairmen, 1990, 170 pp. MATERIAL FLUXES ON THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH William W. Hay, panel chairman, 1994, 170 pp. EFFECTS OF PAST GLOBAL CHANGE ON LIFE Steven M. Stanley, panel chairman, Andrew H. Knoll and James P. Kennett, panel co-vice-chairmen, 1995, 250 pp.

PREFACE xi Preface This report is part of a series, Studies in Geophysics, that has been carried out over the past 15 years to provide (1) a source of information from the scientific community to aid policymakers on decisions on societal problems that involve geophysics and (2) assessments of emerging research topics within the broad scope of geophysics. An important part of such reports is an evaluation of the adequacy of current geophysical knowledge and the appropriateness of current research programs in addressing needed information. The study "Effects of Past Global Change on Life" is designed to help provide a scientific framework to assist the evaluation of the possible impacts of present and future global changes on the biosphere. Such a framework is based on the geologic record, which provides a unique, long-term history of changes in the global environment and of the impact of these changes on life. Because organisms are intimately related to their environment, we can infer that environmental changes of the past will have molded the history of life, and the geologic record confirms this inference for a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. The geologic record also reveals how particular kinds of environmental change have caused species to migrate, become extinct, or give rise to new species. More generally, it shows that many kinds of species and ecosystems are naturally fragile, and therefore transient, whereas other kinds are inherently more stable. The topic was initiated by the Geophysics Study Committee in consultation with the liaison representatives of the federal agencies that support the committee, relevant boards and committees within the National Research Council, and members of the scientific community. While this report was being completed, the Geophysics Study Committee ceased operations and its parent Board on Earth Sciences and Resources assumed the responsibility for the completion of this report. The preliminary scientific findings of the authored background chapters were presented at a symposium during October 1989 meeting of the Geological Society of America. In completing their chapters, the authors had the benefit of discussions at this symposium as

PREFACE xii well as the comments of several scientific referees. Ultimate responsibility for the individual chapters, however, rests with the authors. The Overview of the study draws from the scientific materials presented in the authored chapters and from other materials available in the traditional scientific literature to summarize the subject. The Overview also formulates conclusions and recommendations. In preparing the Overview, the panel chairmen had the benefit of meetings that took place at the symposium, comments of the panel, and the comments of scientists, who reviewed the report according to procedures established by the National Research Council's Report Review Committee. Responsibility of the Overview rests with the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources and the chairman and two co-vice chairmen of the panel.

CONTENTS xiii Contents Overview And Recommendations 1 Background 1. Oxygen and Proterozoic Evolution: An Update 21 Andrew H. Knoll and Heinrich D. Holland 2. Impact of Late Ordovician Glaciation-Deglaciation on Marine Life 34 W. B. N. Berry, M. S. Quinby-Hunt, and P. Wilde 3. Global Change Leading to Biodiversity Crisis in a Greenhouse World: The Cenomanian- 47 Turonian (Cretaceous) Mass Extinction Earle G. Kauffman 4. Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) Mass Extinction: Effect of Global Change on Calcareous 72 Microplankton Gerta Keller and Katharina v. Salis Perch-Nielsen 5. Terminal Paleocene Mass Extinction in the Deep Sea: Association with Global Warming 94 James P. Kennett and Lowell D. Stott 6. Tropical Climate Stability and Implications for the Distribution of Life 108 Eric J. Barron

CONTENTS xiv 7. Neogene Ice Age in the North Atlantic Region: Climatic Changes, Biotic Effects, and Forcing 118 Factors Steven M. Stanley and William F. Ruddiman 8. The Response of Hierarchically Structured Ecosystems to Long-Term Climatic Change: A 134 Case Study Using Tropical Peat Swamps of Pennsylvanian Age William A. DiMichele and Tom L. Phillips 9. The Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic History of Vegetation and Climate at Northern and South- 156 ern High Latitudes: A Comparison Rosemary A. Askin and Robert A. Spicer 10. The Impact of Climatic Changes on the Development of the Australian Flora 174 David C. Christophel 11. Global Climatic Influence on Cenozoic Land Mammal Faunas 184 S. David Webb and Neil D. Opdyke 12. Biotic Responses to Temperature and Salinity Changes During Last Deglaciation, Gulf of Mex- 209 ico Benjamin P. Flower and James P. Kennett 13. Pollen Records of Late Quaternary Vegetation Change: Plant Community Rearrangements 221 and Evolutionary Implications Thompson Webb III 14. Climatic Forcing and the Origin of the Human Genus 233 Steven M. Stanley Index 245

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What can we expect as global change progresses? Will there be thresholds that trigger sudden shifts in environmental conditions—or that cause catastrophic destruction of life?

Effects of Past Global Change on Life explores what earth scientists are learning about the impact of large-scale environmental changes on ancient life—and how these findings may help us resolve today's environmental controversies.

Leading authorities discuss historical climate trends and what can be learned from the mass extinctions and other critical periods about the rise and fall of plant and animal species in response to global change. The volume develops a picture of how environmental change has closed some evolutionary doors while opening others—including profound effects on the early members of the human family.

An expert panel offers specific recommendations on expanding research and improving investigative tools—and targets historical periods and geological and biological patterns with the most promise of shedding light on future developments.

This readable and informative book will be of special interest to professionals in the earth sciences and the environmental community as well as concerned policymakers.

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