The University of Gibraltar’s own Dr Sarah Alvarez speaks to us about her research with an international team that provided a unique glimpse into how marine systems were able to ‘reboot’ following the last global mass extinction event.
Dr Alvarez said “The marine ecosystem is dependent on plankton as its base. We looked at the best fossil record of ocean plankton we could find – calcareous nannofossils (they still exist today) – and collected 13 million years of information from deep sea sediment cores, taking a sample every 13,000 years. We measured abundance, diversity and cell size from over 700,000 fossils, probably the largest fossil dataset ever produced from one site. This study highlights the risks associated with loss of key species, which will in all likelihood lead to unstable communities that will take and extremely long time to recover”