If mass extinctions were caused by reduced primary productivity, then extinctions should be concentrated among animals with starvation-susceptible feeding modes, active lifestyles, and high-energy budgets. The stratigraphic ranges (by stage) of 424 genera of bivalves and 309 genera of articulate brachiopods suggest that there was an unusual reduction of primary productivity at the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary extinction. For bivalves at the K/T, there were (1) selective extinction of suspension feeders and other susceptible trophic categories relative to deposit feeders and other resistant categories, and (2) among suspension feed-ers, selective extinction of bivalves with active locomotion. During the Permian-Triassic (P/Tr) extinction and Jurassic background time, extinction rates among suspension feeders were greater for articulate brachiopods than for bivalves. But during the K/T event, extinction rates of articulates and suspension-feeding bivalves equalized, possibly because the low-energy budgets of articulates gave them an advantage when food was scarce.
- Geological Society of America