Habitats of colonial rugose corals: the Mississippian of western Europe as example for a general classification

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Abstract

Aretz, M. 2010: Habitats of colonial rugose corals: the Mississippian of western Europe as example for a general classification. Lethaia, DOI: 10.1111/j.1502-3931.2010.00218.x.

Colonial rugose corals are a major constituent of shallow-water marine benthic communities in Mississippian times. The study of western European rugose coral habitats from the base of the Tournaisian stage to the Serpukhovian stage allows the recognition of four basic habitat types, which can be divided into a total of 11 subtypes. The classification is mainly based on field data, and thus rapidly applicable. Level-bottom communities in which large colony distances are characteristic (type A) represent the most basic community type; polyspecific (subtype A1) and monospecific (subtype A2) subtypes occur. Reduced colony distances result in the formation of coral meadows (type B), which either show homogenous coral distribution (subtype B1) or the development of patches (subtype B2). Coral biostromes (type C) represent a spectrum between hydrodynamically controlled biostromes (nothing in place, subtype C1) and biologically constructed and controlled biostromes (subtype C2). The bulk of the biostromes represent mixtures of those two subtypes (subtype C3). Colonial rugose corals are widely encountered in Mississippian bioherms where they are dwellers (subtype D1), form capping beds (subtype D2), support framework building along with other organisms (subtype D3) and form coral framework (subtype D4). The latter is probably the most uncommon of all subtypes in Mississippian times. The classification is widely applicable to other groups. □Classification, habitats, Mississippian, palaeoecology, palaeoenvironment, rugose corals.

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