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Survival on a soft seafloor: life strategies of brachiopods from the Cambrian Burgess Shale
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology.
2015 (English)In: Earth-Science Reviews, ISSN 0012-8252, E-ISSN 1872-6828, Vol. 151, 266-287 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract Understanding the structure of benthic communities in the Cambrian remains a major challenge. Direct evidence for species interrelationships is rare and therefore past ecological interactions typically cannot be reconstructed with great accuracy. Here we reveal the community patterns and modes of life of brachiopods – one of the most important filter-feeding groups of Cambrian ecosystems – from the Cambrian Burgess Shale LagerstÀtte. Burgess Shale brachiopods attached to a range of hard substrates, including skeletal debris, conspecific brachiopods and enigmatic tubes, with an overwhelming preference for attachment on the demosponge Pirania muricata. The dominance of P. muricata as a substrate choice – even in bedding assemblages where P. muricata individuals are rare – and similarities to the gregarious attachment strategies of extant brachiopod species suggests that brachiopods larvae in the Burgess Shale community selected their attachment substrates. The distribution of brachiopod taxa is also intricately linked with the presence of suitable hard substrates, with species declining in bedding assemblages where their preferred hard substrates are absent. In addition, brachiopods in the Burgess Shale community are predominantly low epifaunal tierers and do not exploit niches high in the water column, despite the presence of suitable attachment sites. Our analysis of tiering height versus host height indicates that there is no selection by brachiopod larvae in regard to the height of attachment and individuals attached at the first point of contact with the selected substrate. Through comparisons with the ‘early’ Cambrian Chengjiang Biota, we confirm that by the ‘middle’ Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5) brachiopods had already developed a range of attachment strategies similar to some modern brachiopod populations. Our results provide significant insight into the ecological constraints and adaptability of brachiopods in the earliest animal communities of the Cambrian.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 151, 266-287 p.
Keyword [en]
Palaeoecology, Tiering, Lagerstätte, Benthic, Filter feeders, Cambrian Explosion
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Historical Geology and Palaeontology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-268224DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2015.10.015ISI: 000369678000009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-268224DiVA: diva2:876235
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2009-4395, 2012- 1658
Available from: 2015-12-03 Created: 2015-12-03 Last updated: 2017-12-01Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012825215300611

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Holmer, Lars E.

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