Environmental distribution of colony growth form in the favositid Pleurodictyum americanum

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Abstract

Pandolfi, John M. & Burke, Collette D. 1989 01 15: Environmental distribution of colony growth form in the favositid Pleurodictyum americanum. Lethaia, Vol. 22, pp. 69–84. Oslo. ISSN 0024–1164.

Colony growth form is of fundamental importance to understanding the ecology of both modern and ancient marine sessile colonial animals. Fourier shape analysis of the coral Pleurodictyun americantum (Tabulata: Favositida) from the Middle Devonian Hamilton Group of New York State, indicates that colony growth form is variable between environments. Discriminate function analysis of harmonics 2–6 of 51 assemblages of Pleurodictyum americanum (N = 1900) shows that this species displays an onshore to offshore gradient in colony shape. Offshore environments characterized by low levels of turbidity, oxygen, and light contain more flattened, less hemispherical growth forms, whereas onshore environments characterized by high levels of turbidity, oxygen, and light contain more hemispherical, less flattened growth forms. Harmonic shape analysis detected subtle differences among samples of P. americanum from different environments, but also showed that distinctive morphotypes are distributed within horizons. as well as between them. In fact, no one-to-one correspondence in growth form to environment is apparent; growth forms are distributed within environments, suggesting that genetic factors may have had a greater influence over coral growth form than environment. In tabulate corals, patterns of within species variability must be determined before growth form may be useful in interpreting ancient environments. □Tabulate coral, Fourier shape analysis, morphological variability, growth form, Devonian, Hamilton Group, New York.

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