An Investigation into use of the freshwater gastropod Viviparus as a recorder of past climatic change
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Through isotopic analysis of Viviparus lentus (V. lentus) a high resolution record of stepwise changes in δ18O and δ13C across the Eocene / Oligocene transition and Oi-1 glacial maximum has been produced for the continental Solent Group strata, Isle of Wight (UK). Comparison of this V. lentus δ18Ocarb. record with high resolution marine δ18Ocarb. records shows that similar isotopic shifts exist in the near coastal continental and marine realms. In order to calculate palaeotemperatures from this new continental record an investigation into the biology of modern Viviparus and its effect on the isotopic composition of its shell carbonate was undertaken. Experimental measurements of the 18O/16O isotope fractionation between the biogenic aragonite of Viviparus and its host freshwater were undertaken on samples derived from the Somerset Levels in order to generate a genus specific thermometry equation. The results from using this new Viviparus equation on fossil V. lentus shell fragments suggests that aquatic and terrestrial biota were being affected by climate change associated with the Late Eocene Event. This conicides with a decrease in mammal species richness in the Osborne Member, reaching its climax at the end of the Osborne / Seagrove Bay Members. This event is followed by a brief warming in the Bembridge Limestone which was marked by a within-Europe mammal turnover involving dispersal from the south and an increase in species richness, concurrent with this is an increase in size of Harrisichara gyrogonites. An additional investigation into seasonal isotopic variability using whole well preserved V. lentus specimens has also revealed a shift from tropical /subtropical to temperate climatic zones occurring before the Eocene /Oligocene boundary and Oi-1 glacial maximum. Overall the evidence provided by these investigations would suggest that climatic change was already in progress prior to the build up of glacial ice on Antarctica.
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