General

How quickly life is restored after a mass extinction?

It will take at least 10 million yearsin order for life to fully recover from mass extinction, it is such a restriction that nature places on the restoration of species diversity. Trying to explain this rule, many attract environmental factors. But a study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin links this delay with something else: evolution.

Slow wound healing

Recovery rate limit observedthroughout the history of the fossils: from the Great Extinction that destroyed almost the entire ocean life 252 million years ago, to the powerful impact of an asteroid that killed all non-bird dinosaurs. The study, published April 8 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, focuses on the latter example. It tells how life was restored after the last mass extinction on Earth, which wiped out dinosaurs 66 million years ago. The impact of the asteroid, which caused extinction, is the only event in the history of the Earth that led to global changes faster than current climate change, so the authors stated that the study can provide important information about the recovery from current extinction events that people have caused.

The idea that evolution could be the causeLimitations on the speed of recovery of species diversity after extinction — that is, how much a surviving species needs to deduce traits that help it fill open ecological niches or create new ones — was proposed 20 years ago. But now scientists say they have found evidence for the first time.

The team has been tracking recovery over time.time using fossils from a type of plankton called foraminifera. Scientists have compared the diversity of foraminifera with their physical complexity. And they found that the overall complexity was restored faster than the number of species. This discovery suggests that a certain level of environmental complexity is needed before diversification begins.

In other words, mass extinctions destroyrepository of evolutionary innovations of the past. The speed limit is associated with the time it takes to create a new inventory of traits that can produce new species at a speed comparable to that before extinction.

Lead author Christopher Lowry says that the close connection between the complexity of foraminifera and the speed limit of recovery indicates evolution as a speed control.

Earlier studies have shown that the restoration of life takes millions of years, despite the fact that many areas again became inhabited soon after the last mass extinction.

It turned out that although the asteroid destroyedthe variety of foraminifera in general, the species that survived, quickly returned to fill the existing niches. But after this initial recovery, further leaps in species diversity should have awaited the development of new traits. As predicted by the speed limit, 10 million after extinction, the total diversity of foraminifera returned to levels before extinction. Fossil foraminifera are abundant in ocean sediments around the world, which allows scientists to closely monitor species diversity without large gaps in time.

Perhaps this study will help us makea plan of action in the event of a modern extinction that is already happening - due to climate change, habitat loss, invasive species and other factors.

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