New paper by Haijun Song et al. on the recovery from the Permian-Triassic mass extinction in the marine realm published in Science Advances.
Based upon an enormous data set of fossil occurrences and functional diversity, the paper shows that animals at high trophic levels, namely pelagic predators (i.e. cephalopods, vertebrates), recovered faster than those at lower levels. This top-down rebuilding of marine ecosystems was still underway in the latest Triassic some 50 million years after the extinction and provides a stark contrast to the 5 million year recovery required for taxonomic diversity. This decoupling of taxonomic and ecological recoveries suggests that a process of vacant niche filling before reaching the maximum environmental carrying capacity is independent of ecosystem structure building.
Read the full paper online for free on the Science Advances website.