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Diversity and Species Abundance Patterns of the Early Cambrian - (Series 2, Stage 3), Chengjiang Biota, China

It has been traditional for the lagerstätten from the Precambrian-Cambrian transition to be an untapped resource concerning an understanding of the paleoecology of the Cambrian Explosion. In this paper the authors1 present the results of their quantitative palaeoecological study based on 10,328 fossil specimens deriving from 100 animal species, 11 phyla and 15 ecological categories recovered from the Chengjiang Biota of Lower Cambrian (Series 2, stage 3) at the Mafang locality near Haikou, Yunnan Province, China. The fossils were systematically collected from a sequence that was 2.5 m thick that had been divided into 10 stratigraphic intervals. Each interval representative of an induced time-averaged assemblage of various events (obrution) beds for which the duration is not known. The different fossil assemblages are, overall, taxonomically and ecologically similar, which suggests a single community type that recurs throughout the Mafang section. Epibenthic vagile hunters or scavengers, sessile suspension feeders and infaunal vagile hunters and scavengers, primarily represented by arthropods, brachiopods and priapulids, respectively, dominate the Mafang community. A few species are numerically abundant and are frequently found, though most species occur in low numbers and are found less frequently. Overall the structure and ecology of the Mafang community is comparable to the Burgess Shale Biota from Walcott Quarry, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada, that is from the Middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5). According to the authors1 the structure and ecology of the Burgess Shale-type communities remained relatively stable until at least the Middle Cambrian (Series 3, Stage 5) in subtidal to water that was relatively deep in off-shore settings in siliciclastic soft substrate environments, despite variations in the identity of species within taxonomic and ecological groups.

Sources and further reading

  1. Zhao, Fangchen, Jean-Bernard Caron, David J. Bottjer, Shixue Hu, Zongjun Yin, and Maoyan Zhu. "Diversity and Species Abundance Patterns of the Early Cambrian (Series 2, Stage 3) Chengjiang Biota from China." Paleobiology 40, no. 1 (January 1, 2014 2014): 50-69.
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 14/02/2014
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