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Pliocene seasonality across the North Atlantic inferred from cheilostome bryozoans

Knowles, T., Taylor, P. D., Williams, M., Haywood, A. M. and Okamura, B. (2009) Pliocene seasonality across the North Atlantic inferred from cheilostome bryozoans. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 277 (3-4). pp. 226-235. ISSN 0031-0182

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.04.006


Previous studies have shown an inverse correlation between zooid size in cheilostome bryozoans and ambient water temperature. This relationship underlies the MART technique which uses intracolonial variation in zooid size to predict mean annual range in temperature experienced by bryozoan colonies during their life. Here we apply the MART technique to study Early and Mid Pliocene bryozoans from Central America (Panama, Costa Rica), the USA (Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia) and the UK (Suffolk) to reconstruct palaeoseasonality across a range of latitudes for the North Atlantic during the Pliocene Epoch. Compared to the present-day, our analyses suggest greater seasonality (ca 4.5 degrees C) in the southern Caribbean at the time of Cayo Agua Formation deposition (ca 4.25 Ma), in keeping with inferred upwelling prior to the closure of the isthmian barrier at 2.7 Ma. Bryozoans also indicate seasonal upwelling on the Gulf Coast of Florida in a similar manner to the present-day. Because upwelling can be highly localised and prone to spatial and temporal variation in the Gulf of Mexico today, it contributes little to a broad understanding of Pliocene North Atlantic waters. However, MART estimates for the coastal plain region indicate a general reduction in the annual range in temperature relative to the present, suggesting that the colder surface waters that today reach south to Cape Hatteras had less influence in Early to Mid Pliocene times. These results, along with evidence from other proxies, strongly support reduced seasonality and warmer conditions along the eastern seaboard of the USA in the Early to Mid Pliocene. Finally, the MART estimates amongst Coralline Crag localities provide evidence for an increased annual range in temperature in the southern North Sea than at present. Our study shows that bryozoan MART estimates provide a powerful, independent proxy for palaeoseasonality and is the first to demonstrate that the MART technique can be applied to infer palaeoclimates across a wide range of latitudes focusing on a variety of geological formations and geographical regions. Crown Copyright (C) 2009 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:9637
Uncontrolled Keywords:Bryozoa, Zooid size, Palaeoseasonality, Annual temperature range, Palaeoclimate proxies, Pliocene, ZOOID SIZE, FOLIACEA BRYOZOA, EASTERN ENGLAND, MARINE BRYOZOAN, GROWTH-RATE, FLORIDA, SEA, TEMPERATURE, ENVIRONMENT, EXTINCTION

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