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Title: Canopy Structure in Late Cretaceous and Paleocene Forests as Reconstructed from Carbon Isotope Analyses of Fossil Leaves
While modern forests have their origin in the diversification and expansion of angiosperms in the late Cretaceous and early Cenozoic, it is unclear if the rise of closed-canopy tropical rainforests preceded or followed the end-Cretaceous extinction. The “canopy effect” is a strong vertical gradients in the carbon isotope (δ13C) composition of leaves in modern closed-canopy forests that could serve as a proxy signature for canopy structure in ancient forests. To test this, we report measurements of the carbon isotope composition of nearly 200 fossil angiosperm leaves from two localities in the Paleocene Cerrejón Formation and one locality in the Maastrichtian Guaduas Formation. Leaves from one Cerrejón fossil assemblage deposited in a small fluvial channel exhibited a 6.3‰ range in δ13C, consistent with a closed-canopy forest. Carbon isotope values from lacustrine sediments in the Cerrejón Fm. had a range of 3.3‰, consistent with vegetation along a lake edge. An even narrower range of δ13C values (2.7‰) was observed for a leaf assemblage recovered from the Cretaceous Guaduas Fm., and suggests vegetation with an open canopy structure. Carbon isotope fractionation by late Cretaceous and early Paleogene leaves was in all cases similar to modern relatives, consistent with estimates of low atmospheric CO2 more » during this time period. This study confirms other lines of evidence suggesting closed-canopy forests in tropical South America existed by the late Paleocene, and fails to find isotopic evidence for a closed-canopy forest in the Cretaceous. « less
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  1. The end-Cretaceous event was catastrophic for terrestrial communities worldwide, yet its long-lasting effect on tropical forests remains largely unknown. We quantified plant extinction and ecological change in tropical forests resulting from the end-Cretaceous event using fossil pollen (>50,000 occurrences) and leaves (>6000 specimens) from localities in Colombia. Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) rainforests were characterized by an open canopy and diverse plant–insect interactions. Plant diversity declined by 45% at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary and did not recover for ~6 million years. Paleocene forests resembled modern Neotropical rainforests, with a closed canopy and multistratal structure dominated by angiosperms. The end-Cretaceous event triggered a long interval of low plant diversity in the Neotropics and the evolutionary assembly of today’s most diverse terrestrial ecosystem.

  2. Abstract Ammonites have disparate adult morphologies indicative of diverse ecological niches, but ammonite hatchlings are small (~1 mm diameter), which raises questions about the similarity of egg incubation and hatchling life mode in ammonites. Modern Nautilus is sometimes used as a model organism for understanding ammonites, but despite their outward similarities, the groups are only distantly related. Trends in ammonite diversity and extinction vulnerability in the fossil record contrast starkly with those of nautilids, and embryonic shells from Late Cretaceous ammonites are two orders of magnitude smaller than nautilid embryonic shells. To investigate possible environmental changes experienced by ammonite hatchlings, we used secondary ion mass spectrometry to analyze the oxygen and carbon isotope composition of the embryonic shells and early postembryonic whorls of five juveniles of Hoploscaphites comprimus obtained from a single concretion in the Fox Hills Formation of South Dakota. Co-occurring bivalves and diagenetic calcite were also analyzed to provide a benthic baseline for comparison. The oxygen isotope ratios of embryonic shells are more like those of benthic bivalves, suggesting that ammonite eggs were laid on the bottom. Ammonite shell immediately after hatching has more negative δ 18 O, suggesting movement to more shallow water that is potentially warmermore »and/or fresher. After approximately one whorl of postembryonic growth, the values of δ 18 O become more positive in three of the five individuals, suggesting that these animals transitioned to a more demersal mode of life. Two other individuals transition to even lower δ 18 O values that could suggest movement to nearshore brackish water. These data suggest that ammonites, like many modern coleoids, may have spawned at different times of the year. Because scaphites were one of the short-term Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction survivors, it is possible that this characteristic allowed them to develop a broader geographic range and, consequently, a greater resistance to extinction.« less
  3. Abstract
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  4. BACKGROUND The availability of nitrogen (N) to plants and microbes has a major influence on the structure and function of ecosystems. Because N is an essential component of plant proteins, low N availability constrains the growth of plants and herbivores. To increase N availability, humans apply large amounts of fertilizer to agricultural systems. Losses from these systems, combined with atmospheric deposition of fossil fuel combustion products, introduce copious quantities of reactive N into ecosystems. The negative consequences of these anthropogenic N inputs—such as ecosystem eutrophication and reductions in terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity—are well documented. Yet although N availability is increasing in many locations, reactive N inputs are not evenly distributed globally. Furthermore, experiments and theory also suggest that global change factors such as elevated atmospheric CO 2 , rising temperatures, and altered precipitation and disturbance regimes can reduce the availability of N to plants and microbes in many terrestrial ecosystems. This can occur through increases in biotic demand for N or reductions in its supply to organisms. Reductions in N availability can be observed via several metrics, including lowered nitrogen concentrations ([N]) and isotope ratios (δ 15 N) in plant tissue, reduced rates of N mineralization, and reduced terrestrial Nmore »export to aquatic systems. However, a comprehensive synthesis of N availability metrics, outside of experimental settings and capable of revealing large-scale trends, has not yet been carried out. ADVANCES A growing body of observations confirms that N availability is declining in many nonagricultural ecosystems worldwide. Studies have demonstrated declining wood δ 15 N in forests across the continental US, declining foliar [N] in European forests, declining foliar [N] and δ 15 N in North American grasslands, and declining [N] in pollen from the US and southern Canada. This evidence is consistent with observed global-scale declines in foliar δ 15 N and [N] since 1980. Long-term monitoring of soil-based N availability indicators in unmanipulated systems is rare. However, forest studies in the northeast US have demonstrated decades-long decreases in soil N cycling and N exports to air and water, even in the face of elevated atmospheric N deposition. Collectively, these studies suggest a sustained decline in N availability across a range of terrestrial ecosystems, dating at least as far back as the early 20th century. Elevated atmospheric CO 2 levels are likely a main driver of declines in N availability. 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  5. Abstract The Au-rich polymetallic massive sulfide orebodies of the Kassandra mining district belong to the intrusion-related carbonate-hosted replacement deposit class. Marble lenses contained within the Stratoni fault zone host the Madem Lakkos and Mavres Petres deposits at the eastern end of the fault system, where paragenetically early skarn and massive sulfide are spatially associated with late Oligocene aplitic and porphyritic dikes. Skarn transitions into predominant massive and banded replacement sulfide bodies, which are overprinted by a younger assemblage of boulangerite-bearing, quartz-rich sulfide and late quartz-rhodochrosite vein breccias. The latter style of mineralization is most abundant at the Piavitsa prospect at the western end of the exposed fault system. The sulfide orebodies at the Olympias deposit are hosted by marble in association with the Kassandra fault, where textural and mineralogical similarities to the sulfide bodies within the Stratoni fault zone suggest a genetic relationship. Estimated trapping temperatures and pressures based on fluid inclusion data indicate that carbonate replacement mineralization took place at depths less than about 5.9 km. Carbon and oxygen isotope patterns in carbonate from the Stratoni fault zone support isotopic exchange principally through fluid–wall-rock interaction, whereas decarbonation and fluid-rock exchange reactions were important at the Olympias deposit. Carbonate mineralsmore »associated with skarn and replacement sulfide throughout the district have isotopic compositions that are consistent with formation from a hydrothermal fluid of magmatic origin. Lower homogenization temperatures and salinities in the younger quartz-rich sulfide assemblage and quartz-rhodochrosite vein breccias, together with low δ18O values of gangue carbonate, suggest dilution of a primary magmatic fluid with meteoric water late in the evolution of the hydrothermal system in both the Olympias area and the Stratoni fault zone. The replacement sulfide orebodies in the district likely inherited their uniform Pb isotope composition from a late Oligocene igneous source and the isotopically heterogeneous metamorphic basement units. Metal distribution patterns at the scale of the Stratoni fault zone show diminishing Cu concentration with decreasing Pb/Zn and Ag/Au ratios from Madem Lakkos to Mavres Petres and the Piavitsa prospect in the west. The sulfide orebodies at the Olympias deposit exhibit elevated Cu values in the east with increasing Pb/Zn and Ag/Au ratios down-plunge to the south-southwest. Metal concentration and ratios support zoning related to temperature and solubility changes with increasing distance from a probable magmatic source. Structural and igneous relationships, together with fluid inclusion microthermometric and carbon-oxygen isotope data and metal distribution patterns, are supportive of a zoned hydrothermal system that exceeded 12 km along the Stratoni fault zone, sourced by an igneous intrusion to the southeast of the Madem Lakkos deposit. The Olympias replacement sulfide orebodies, associated with the Kassandra fault, resulted from a local hydrothermal system that was likely derived from a concealed igneous intrusion to the east of the deposit.« less