Articles | Volume 11, issue 1
01 Feb 2008
 | 01 Feb 2008

Sampling-standardized expansion and collapse of reef building in the Phanerozoic

W. Kiessling

Abstract. Tracing the variability of reef production over long temporal scales is important to approach natural processes favoring or suppressing reef growth. Raw compilations of reef abundance per unit of time do not necessarily depict biologically meaningful patterns, because the waxing and waning of reefs might just follow the quality of the fossil record, that is, the amount of paleontological information that is available in general. Here I standardize the published record of Phanerozoic reefs, as stored in the PaleoReefs database, to the published record of marine invertebrate fossils as stored in the Paleobiology Database. The sampling-standardized peaks in reef growth are essentially identical to those of previous studies, but significant peaks are rare. Times when unusual changes in ecological conditions are likely to control changes in metazoan reef proliferation were identified in the Late Devonian, Late Triassic, Late Jurassic and Neogene.