A comprehensive, high resolution stratigraphic database of fusulinoidean foraminifers reveals that this group of protists suffered extreme losses during the Guadalupian extinction. Most species (88%) were eliminated gradually over the course of 9 myr during the Wordian and Capitanian ages. A pulse of greatly elevated per capita extinction frequency occurred during the last million years of the Capitanian (260–259 Ma). Contrary to prevailing opinion, the end-Capitanian event did not preferentially eliminate large, morphologically complex species in the families Schwagerinidae and Neoschwagerinidae, because most species in those families were already extinct. Rather, 69 percent of the species eliminated at the end of the Capitanian were small, morphologically conservative representatives of the Ozawainellidae, Schubertellidae and Staffellidae. Survivors from these families comprised the low-diversity association of Wuchiapingian fusulinoideans. Schubertellids, and to a lesser extent ozawainellids, diversified in the late Wuchiapingian and Changhsingian ages before the final demise of fusulinoideans during the end-Permian mass extinction. The Wordian–Capitanian fusulinoidean attrition might have been caused by photosymbiont loss and habitat reduction stemming from an interval of global cooling termed the Kamura event (∼265–259.5 Ma), although the onset of fusulinoidean diversity decline predates geochemical evidence for the beginning of the Kamura event by ∼3 myr. The end-Capitanian extinction pulse might reflect environmental deterioration from the combined effects of global cooling, Emeishan effusive volcanism and sea-level lowstand.
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Vol. 87 • No. 2