Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
01 Mar 1991
 | 01 Mar 1991

Global Change and the Biostratigraphy of North Atlantic Cainozoic deep water Ostracoda

Robin C. Whatley and Graham P. Coles

Abstract. The biostratigraphical distribution of deep-sea (>1000m) Palaeocene to Recent benthonic Ostracoda, based on nannofossil NP and NN zones is presented. By excluding very rare species and those represented by juveniles, 184 species are used in constructing range tables from a total fauna for the interval of 230 species. The vertical distribution of these specimens clearly allows of the recognition of all the major stratigraphical units within the Cainozoic and is also sufficiently precise to distinguish most of the nannofossil zones. The principal criteria employed are the first and last appearances of taxa. While eminently possible to create a series of ostracod zones, it is argued that they are best employed in the recognition of particular levels within the existing nannofossil scheme. The interpretation of the range tables is complicated in places by large numbers of Lazarus taxa and also by the fact that many of the ‘originations’ actually record the arrival of immigrants from the Indo-Pacific.

Graphs of both simple and cumulative species diversity, and of origination and extinction rates, are used to demonstrate major faunal events such as the first arrival in the area, during the Middle Eocene, of cosmopolitan deep-sea species, or the very marked, but stepped, Palaeogene-Neogene faunal turnover. The distribution patterns of the Ostracoda record such global changes as the formation of the psychrosphere and the inception of a marked thermocline but they do not, as other authors have suggested, indicate a dramatic faunal turnover at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary. The more vigorous circulation patterns of the Oligocene, related to the opening of the Drake Passage, are reflected in enhanced ostracod diversity at that time. Elevated late Oligocene extinction rates may be correlated with cooling consequent upon the growth of polar ice. Similarly, Lower Miocene low levels of diversity may be associated with the closure of the Iberian Portal and the effective isolation of the Tethys. The deep-sea ostracods do not, for the most part, record such events as the mid-Pliocene warming nor Quaternary climatic fluctuations.