• Trilobites;
  • paleoecology;
  • survivorship;
  • opportunism;
  • Ordovician;
  • Missouri

The trilobite Ampyxina bellatula (Savage) occurs in monospecific accumulations within dolomitic strata of the shaly Upper Ordovician Maquoketa Group of northeastern Missouri. A dolomitic stratum containing 97 complete individuals and considerable amounts of pyrite exhibited no associated benthic megafauna. The strata appear to be equivalent to the Scales Formation of the Maquoketa Group of northern Illinois and eastern Iowa which have been interpreted as having been deposited in a muddy environment with severe circulation restrictions. The presence of the monospecific trilobite association in what otherwise would be an unfossiliferous stratigraphic sequence is interpreted as being the result of opportunistic strategy by this trilobite in a resource-rich unstable environmental setting. The association was apparently cat-astrophically buried, thus preserving the age structure of the holaspid population. A size-distribution histogram of the holaspid population indicates that reproduction may have occurred in periodic bursts with lesser reproductive events occurring during the intervening periods. Holaspid survivorship information indicates that mortality was low during the early holaspid stage and increased with age. Anomalous single bed trilobite accumulations of various age rocks have been documented by numerous authors. These may in part be analogous to the Ampyxina occurrence in the Maquoketa Group of Missouri, and be attributable to opportunistic strategies.