The terminal Paleozoic fungal event: evidence of terrestrial ecosystem destabilization and collapse.
Because of its prominent role in global biomass storage, land vegetation is the most obvious biota to be investigated for records of dramatic ecologic crisis in Earth history. There is accumulating evidence that, throughout the world, sedimentary organic matter preserved in latest Permian deposits is characterized by unparalleled abundances of fungal remains, irrespective of depositional environment (marine, lacustrine, fluviatile), floral provinciality, and climatic zonation. This fungal event can be considered to reflect excessive dieback of arboreous vegetation, effecting destabilization and subsequent collapse of terrestrial ecosystems with concomitant loss of standing biomass. Such a scenario is in harmony with predictions that the Permian-Triassic ecologic crisis was triggered by the effects of severe changes in atmospheric chemistry arising from the rapid eruption of the Siberian Traps flood basalts.