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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor David Harper

Pohl, Alexandre, Harper, David A. T., Donnadieu, Yannick, Le Hir, Guillaume, Nardin, Elise & Servais, Thomas (2018). Possible patterns of marine primary productivity during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. Lethaia 51(2): 187-197.

Author(s) from Durham


Following the appearance of numerous animal phyla during the ‘Cambrian Explosion’, the ‘Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event’ (GOBE) records their rapid diversification at the lower taxonomic levels, constituting the most significant rise in biodiversity in Earth's history. Recent studies suggest that the rapid rise in phytoplankton diversity observed at the Cambrian–Ordovician boundary may have profoundly restructured marine trophic chains, paving the way for the subsequent flourishing of plankton-feeding groups during the Ordovician. Unfortunately, the fossil record of plankton is incomplete. Its smaller members represent the bulk of the modern marine biomass, but they are usually not documented in Palaeozoic sediments, preventing any definitive assumption with regard to an eventual correlation between biodiversity and biomass at that time. Here, we use an up-to-date ocean general circulation model with biogeochemical capabilities (MITgcm) to simulate the spatial patterns of marine primary productivity throughout the Ordovician, and we compare the model output with available palaeontological and sedimentological data.