Dataset: Marine benthic communities in the Early Carboniferous of New South Wales (Visean-Delepinea aspinosa Zone)


The Delepinea aspinosa brachiopod Zone comprises two subzones: the Inflatia elegans and Linoprotonia tenuirugosa Subzones. Multivariate (cluster) analysis is used to identify benthic marine fossil communities (recurrent species associations) in samples collected from all known fossiliferous intervals of these subzones in the study area. The Euclidean distance coefficient, a weighted-pair grouping method, and a standardised data set are used to form dendrographic clusters inferred to represent recurrent species associations (communities). The results parallel those from faunas of the succeeding Rhipidomella fortimuscula Zone, i.e. several communities are evident and some species are numerically significant in more than one community. The communities of each subzone appear to intergrade rather than form rigid, depth-limited assemblages. Faunas of the I. elegans Subzone cluster into four communities, including the Unispirifer striatoconvolutus community, present in substrates near or below wave-base on a marine shelf. The I. elegans community is closest in species composition to the U. striatoconvolutus community, but does not occupy the same geographic range; it may be a precursor community. Two other communities, the Rhipidomella australis and Leptagonia analoga communities, overlap in range with the first two communities and are inferred to have occurred in a mid-shelf setting. Faunas of the subsequent faunal assemblage, the Linoprotonia tenuirugosa Subzone, are present on marine shelf substrates influenced by an actively prograding shoreline. The Rhipidomella australis community persisted into this subzone with a modified species composition. The Rugosochonetes careyi community is a new element.

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