Constraining causes of fish mass mortality using ultra-high-resolution biomarker measurement

Abby Othman Wilson, John Parnell, Adrian J. Boyce, Stephen A. Bowden (Corresponding Author)

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Abstract

Lamina by lamina measurement of biomarkers at a sub-millimetre resolution within the Achanarras Limestone Member has helped to resolve the changing environmental conditions associated with a fish mass mortality horizon. An anomalous proportion of C30 sterane (24-n-propylcholestane) marks the beginning of the horizon and likely corresponds to an influx of marine water. This appears to have been short lived and was likely analogous to a modern day storm tide. The subsequent laminae record an increased incidence of water column stratification and hypoxic bottom waters in the form of an elevated gammacerane index. The mass mortality horizon studied was from an upper interval of the Achanarras Limestone Member with a fossil fish assemblage comprising mostly Dipterus, an early Dipnoan (lungfish). However, lower intervals of the Achanarras Limestone Member have greater assemblage diversity, including species associated with marine conditions such as Coccosteus, and evidence higher proportions of C30 sterane indicating better connection to the marine environment. Therefore, it appears that ingressing seawater in and of itself was not responsible for creating a stressed environment. Rather, disconnection of the lake from marine waters stranded fish in a lake, that when perturbed by storm tides, killed en masse by exposing fish to hypoxic conditions in a similar way to modern water bodies affected by storm tides generated during hurricanes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-162
Number of pages7
JournalChemical Geology
Volume385
Early online date30 Jul 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

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mass mortality
Biomarkers
Fish
biomarker
Calcium Carbonate
Tides
tide
Water
limestone
fish
Lakes
lake
bottom water
hurricane
Biodiversity
Hurricanes
marine environment
species diversity
stratification
Seawater

Keywords

  • biomarker
  • fish mass mortality
  • high resolution

Cite this

Constraining causes of fish mass mortality using ultra-high-resolution biomarker measurement. / Othman Wilson, Abby; Parnell, John; Boyce, Adrian J.; Bowden, Stephen A. (Corresponding Author).

In: Chemical Geology, Vol. 385, 10.2014, p. 156-162.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - Lamina by lamina measurement of biomarkers at a sub-millimetre resolution within the Achanarras Limestone Member has helped to resolve the changing environmental conditions associated with a fish mass mortality horizon. An anomalous proportion of C30 sterane (24-n-propylcholestane) marks the beginning of the horizon and likely corresponds to an influx of marine water. This appears to have been short lived and was likely analogous to a modern day storm tide. The subsequent laminae record an increased incidence of water column stratification and hypoxic bottom waters in the form of an elevated gammacerane index. The mass mortality horizon studied was from an upper interval of the Achanarras Limestone Member with a fossil fish assemblage comprising mostly Dipterus, an early Dipnoan (lungfish). However, lower intervals of the Achanarras Limestone Member have greater assemblage diversity, including species associated with marine conditions such as Coccosteus, and evidence higher proportions of C30 sterane indicating better connection to the marine environment. Therefore, it appears that ingressing seawater in and of itself was not responsible for creating a stressed environment. Rather, disconnection of the lake from marine waters stranded fish in a lake, that when perturbed by storm tides, killed en masse by exposing fish to hypoxic conditions in a similar way to modern water bodies affected by storm tides generated during hurricanes.

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