The purpose of this study is to examine the biodiversity patterns of a group of fossil organisms called chitinozoans. Chitinozoans are organic-walled, planktonic microfossils that first appear in the Early Ordovician Period (488 million years ago) and diversify rapidly through the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician Period was a time of great global climate change, and by studying this group of fossil plankton, we hope to better understand how modern plankton, which are the base of the marine food chain, might respond to climate change. We used a method called constrained optimization (CONOP9) to construct a composite range chart of 152 chitinozoan species from 65 Ordovician drill cores and outcrops from the paleocontinent Gondwana. Our results show that chitinozoan biodiversity increases throughout the Early and Middle Ordovician, peaks in the middle part of the Late Ordovician and declines thereafter. These results differ from biodiversity estimates derived from more traditional species counting methods.
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Earth Sciences | Geology | Physical Sciences and Mathematics
Sales, Rachel, "Chitinozoan Biodiversity in the Ordovician of Gondwana: An Interval-Free Approach Using the Quantitative Stratigraphic Correlation Program CONOP9" (2015). Honors Theses. 60.