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Abiotic Forcing of Plankton Evolution in the Cenozoic

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Science  09 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5655, pp. 207-210
DOI: 10.1126/science.1090592

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Abstract

We characterize the evolutionary radiation of planktic foraminifera by the test size distributions of entire assemblages in more than 500 Cenozoic marine sediment samples, including more than 1 million tests. Calibration of Holocene size patterns with environmental parameters and comparisons with Cenozoic paleoproxy data show a consistently positive correlation between test size and surface-water stratification intensity. We infer that the observed macroevolutionary increase in test size of planktic foraminifera through the Cenozoic was an adaptive response to intensifying surface-water stratification in low latitudes, which was driven by polar cooling.

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