The influence of environmental setting on the community ecology of Ediacaran organisms

Mitchell, E. G and Bobkov, N and Bykova, N and Dhungana, A and Kolesnikov, A and Hogarth, IRP and Liu, A. G. and Mustill, TMR and Sozonov, N and Xiao, S and Grazhdankin, DV (2020) The influence of environmental setting on the community ecology of Ediacaran organisms. Interface Focus. ISSN 2042-8901 print 2042-8898 (In Press)

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Abstract

The broad-scale environment plays a substantial role in shaping modern marine ecosystems, but the degree to which palaeocommunities were influenced by their environment is unclear. To investigate how broad-scale environment influenced the community ecology of early animal ecosystems we employed spatial point process analyses to examine the community structure of seven bedding-plane assemblages of late Ediacaran age (558–550 Ma), drawn from a range of environmental settings and global localities. The studied palaeocommunities exhibit marked differences in the response of their component taxa to sub-metre-scale habitat heterogeneities on the seafloor. Shallow-marine palaeocommunities were heavily influenced by local habitat heterogeneities, in contrast to their deep-water counterparts. Lower species richness in deep-water Ediacaran assemblages compared to shallow-water counterparts across the studied time-interval could have been driven by this environmental patchiness, because habitat heterogeneities correspond to higher diversity in modern marine environments. The presence of grazers and detritivores within shallow-water communities may have promoted local patchiness, potentially initiating a chain of increasing heterogeneity of benthic communities from shallow to deep-marine depositional environments. Our results provide quantitative support for the “Savannah” hypothesis for early animal diversification – whereby Ediacaran diversification was driven by patchiness in the local benthic environment.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2020AREP; IA76
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
06 - Part-III Projects
08 - Green Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Interface Focus
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 07 May 2020 23:03
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 23:03
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/4735

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