Animals and the invention of the Phanerozoic Earth System.

Butterfield, N. J. (2011) Animals and the invention of the Phanerozoic Earth System. Trends in ecology evolution, 26 (2). pp. 81-87. ISSN 0169-5347 DOI

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Animals do not just occupy the modern biosphere, they permeate its structure and define how it works. Their unique combination of organ-grade multicellularity, motility and heterotrophic habit makes them powerful geobiological agents, imposing myriad feedbacks on nutrient cycling, productivity and environment. Most significantly, animals have ‘engineered’ the biosphere over evolutionary time, forcing the diversification of, for example, phytoplankton, land plants, trophic structure, large body size, bioturbation, biomineralization and indeed the evolutionary process itself. This review surveys how animals contribute to the modern world and provides a basis for reconstructing ancient ecosystems. Earlier, less animal-influenced biospheres worked quite differently from the one currently occupied, with the Ediacaran–Cambrian radiation of organ-grade animals marking a fundamental shift in macroecological and macroevolutionary expression.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2010AREP; IA61;
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
Journal or Publication Title: Trends in ecology evolution
Volume: 26
Page Range: pp. 81-87
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 09:50
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 10:00

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