End-Permian fungal remains
Throughout the world (fig. 1), sedimentary organic matter preserved in latest Permian deposits is characterized by high abundances of fungal remains (fig. 2). These remains are found irrespective its depositional environment (marine, lacustrine, fluviatile), floral provinciality and climatic zonation. The fungal remains are considered to include both hyphae and asexual spores of terrestrial saprophytic fungi. In the Southern Alps and Israel, fungal proliferation is temporally related to floral turnover from woody gymnosperms to herbaceous lycopsids and bryophytes. Correlation with marine events suggests approximate coincidence with invertebrate extinctions as well as the negative shift in δ13C-carb values. 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 concepts that the end-Permian ecologic crisis was triggered by the effects of severe changes in atmospheric chemistry, arising from the rapid eruption of the Siberian Traps flood basalts.
Visscher H., Brinkhuis H., Dilcher D.L., Elsik W.C., Eshet Y., Looy C.V., Rampino M.R. and Traverse A., 1996. The terminal Palaeozoic fungal event: evidence of terrestrial ecosystem destabilization and collapse. Proceedings National Academy of Science 93: 2155-2158. PDF