Population structure of graptolite assemblages

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Abstract

Graptolite rhabdosomes display a diverse suite of morphologies. The range of morphotypes present within most moderate- to high-diversity assemblages from the Ordovician and Silurian is similar, despite the different taxonomic composition of the faunas at different times. Survivorship analyses of graptolite faunas from the Ordovician and Silurian demonstrate strong similarities in the mortality rates of unrelated graptolites of similar functional morphology. They also show a strong correlation between decreasing mortality rates among more mature colonies with increasing rhabdosome complexity. This similarity in both functional morphology and life history of graptolites suggests that they lived within a very stable planktic community structure.

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