Ediacara biota flourished in oligotrophic and bacterially dominated marine environments across Baltica

Kelden Pehr, Gordon D. Love, Anton Kuznetsov, Victor Podkovyrov, Christopher K. Junium, Leonid Shumlyanskyy, Tetyana Sokur, Andrey Bekker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Middle-to-late Ediacaran (575-541 Ma) marine sedimentary rocks record the first appearance of macroscopic, multicellular body fossils, yet little is known about the environments and food sources that sustained this enigmatic fauna. Here, we perform a lipid biomarker and stable isotope (δ15Ntotal and δ13CTOC) investigation of exceptionally immature late Ediacaran strata (<560 Ma) from multiple locations across Baltica. Our results show that the biomarker assemblages encompass an exceptionally wide range of hopane/sterane ratios (1.6-119), which is a broad measure of bacterial/eukaryotic source organism inputs. These include some unusually high hopane/sterane ratios (22-119), particularly during the peak in diversity and abundance of the Ediacara biota. A high contribution of bacteria to the overall low productivity may have bolstered a microbial loop, locally sustaining dissolved organic matter as an important organic nutrient. These oligotrophic, shallow-marine conditions extended over hundreds of kilometers across Baltica and persisted for more than 10 million years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1807
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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