EGU21-7245, updated on 09 Jan 2023
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rise and fall of rotaliids in the Paleocene-Eocene: the influence of climate and trophic competition

Andrea Benedetti1, Cesare Andrea Papazzoni1,2, and Francesca Romana Bosellini1,3
Andrea Benedetti et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche e Geologiche, Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy (
  • 2(
  • 3(

It is largely accepted that climate plays a pivotal role in the diversification of shallow-water communities, with special regards to larger foraminifera (LF), also because increase of surface water temperatures is often accompanied by change in trophic conditions. The shift from widespread eutrophic to oligotrophic conditions in shallow seas probably contributed to the LF differentiation during Paleocene-Eocene times. However, there are few recent attempts to quantify the changes in biodiversity and to correlate them with the global climatic events of the Paleogene. We concentrated our attention on the group of rotaliids, resilient taxa that partially survived after the mass extinction occurred at the end of the Cretaceous.

Our data show that their differentiation at genus level was very rapid, reaching its maximum already in the late Danian SB2 Zone. Specific diversification, instead, culminated in late Thanetian SB4 Zone. A second peak in specific diversity is recorded during the Cuisian (upper part of the Ypresian), then rotaliid diversity steadily declined, as long as other groups of larger foraminifers, especially Alveolina and Nummulites, became more competitive and proliferated with a large number of species up to the Bartonian SB17 Zone, when a significant drop in rotaliid biodiversity is recorded.

Differently to other taxonomic groups, i.e., alveolinids and nummulitids, for which a single genus during the whole Eocene generated numerous species, rotaliid genera are usually characterized by a low number of species, possibly due to the re-opening of ecological niches after the abrupt decrease of diversity that followed the PETM event. The competition with other K-strategist LF probably contributed to the decline of rotaliids in the middle Eocene up to the MECO event, where a last dramatic drop is recorded.

The major changes appear strictly linked to warming events such as the Late Danian Event (LDE, starting of the generic diversification of rotaliids), Paleocene Eocene Termal Maximum (PETM, faunal turnover followed by abrupt decrease in both generic and specific diversity), Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO, increase in number of K-strategists under widespread oligotrophic conditions) and Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO, ultimate drop in diversity and competition with other larger foraminifers).

This study was funded by the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR), funds PRIN 2017: project “Biota resilience to global change: biomineralization of planktic and benthic calcifiers in the past, present and future” (prot. 2017RX9XXY).

How to cite: Benedetti, A., Papazzoni, C. A., and Bosellini, F. R.: Rise and fall of rotaliids in the Paleocene-Eocene: the influence of climate and trophic competition, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7245,, 2021.


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