Recovery dynamics of benthic marine communities from the Lower Triassic Werfen Formation, northern Italy
Hofmann, R., Hautmann, M. & Bucher, H. 2014: Recovery dynamics of benthic marine communities from the Lower Triassic Werfen Formation, northern Italy. Lethaia, DOI: 10.1111/let.12121. The Lower Triassic Werfen Formation of northern Italy represents an important archive for Early Triassic ecosystems. Based on quantitative community analysis using species level identifications, we reconstruct the recovery of benthic ecosystems after the end-Permian mass extinction throughout this unit. The analysis of benthic macrofossil communities shows that incipient recovery has taken place during the Griesbachian and the GriesbachiannDienerian transition. A probable deterioration in environmental conditions is observed towards the end of the Dienerian. The Smithian part of the Werfen Formation is characterized by high siliciclastic input, which ceases around the Smithian-Spathian boundary. The Spathian marks the definitive phase of recovery in the Werfen Formation. The comparison of this pattern with other palaoegeographical regions suggests that both the Griesbachian recovery and the Dienerian decline were of inter-regional if not global extent, whereas the Smithian diversity low in the Werfen Formation is a local signal. In contrast to the recovery dynamics of ammonoids and conodonts, the SmithiannSpathian boundary interval was no caesura for benthic ecosystems. The Spathian recovery pulse is possibly also an inter-regional event, at least in the palaeotropics. These results are in contrast with the previously proposed scenario of persistent hostile conditions during the Griesbachian time interval and highlight an initial recovery phase restricted to Griesbachian times. Instead, the apparently sluggish recovery of benthic ecosystems was at least partly shaped by set-backs due to short-term environmental perturbations during the Dienerian.□ Diversity, early Triassic, palaeoecology, recovery, Werfen Formation.