Latitudinal distribution of bryozoan-rich sediments in the Ordovician


Authors: Taylor PD, Sendino C

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 85, issue 4; pages: 565 - 572; Received 20 January 2010; Accepted in revised form 23 August 2010; Online 12 October 2010

Keywords: Bryozoa, Ordovician, carbonates, palaeolatitudes,

full text (PDF, 0.88 MB)

Export to RIS



Most bryozoans have calcareous skeletons that locally contribute large amounts of carbonate sediment to the sea floor. Whereas Recent bryozoans are diverse in shelf seas pan-globally, it is only in mid to high latitudes that they are potential limestone producers; tropical bryozoans invariably have too small a biomass relative to other carbonate producers (corals, algae and molluscs) to be important sources of sediment. During the Palaeozoic, however, bryozoan-rich deposits were formed at all palaeolatitudes, including the tropics. Extending the work of Taylor & Allison (1998), we have compiled data on 42 occurrences of bryozoan-rich deposits of Ordovician age to determine whether the Palaeozoic distributional pattern extends back to their earliest appearance in the fossil record. Estimated palaeolatitudes of deposition ranged from 10–75°, but the majority (71%) were found to be tropical, i.e. < 23.5°. Of the 14 reefal occurrences, 11 (79%) were formed in tropical palaeolatitudes. No significant trend in depositional palaeolatitude could be detected with time through the Ordovician. The most persuasive explanation for the broader palaeolatitudinal distribution of bryozoan-rich deposits (including reefs) in the Ordovician than at the present day is that durophagous predators were ecologically unimportant, allowing large erect, sediment-producing bryozoan colonies to grow in the tropics where today they are vulnerable to grazing fishes, decapods and echinoderms.


Alberstadt, L.P.,Walker, K.R.&Zurawski, R.P. 1974. Patch reefs in the Carters Limestone (Middle Ordovician) in Tennessee, and vertical zonation in Ordovician reefs. Geological Society of America Bulletin 85, 1171–1182.View article

Allison, P.A., Taylor, P.D. & Sombroek, H. 1999. Evolutionary faunas and changes in the depositional latitudes and facies of bryozoan-rich deposits through the Phanerozoic. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 31(7), 335–336.

Álvaro, J.J., Vennin, E., Villas, E., Destombes, J. & Vizcaino, D. 2007. Pre-Hirnantian (latest Ordovician) benthic community assemblages: Controls and replacements in a siliciclastic-dominated platform of the eastern Anti-Atlas, Morocco. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 245, 20–36.View article

Baud, A., Nakrem, H.A., Beauchamp, B., Beatty, T.W., Embry, A.F. & Henderson, C.M. 2008. Lower Triassic bryozoan beds from Ellesmere Island, High Arctic, Canada. Polar Research 27, 428–440.View article

Bolton, T.E. & Cuffey, R.J. 2005. Bryozoa of the Romaine and Mingan Formations (Lower and Middle Ordovician) of the Mingan Islands, Quebec, Canada, 25–41. In Moyano, G., Hugo, I., Cancino, J.M. & Wyse Jackson, P.N. (eds) Bryozoan Studies 2005. Balkema, Leiden, London.View article

Brood, K. 1981. Hirnantian (Upper Ordovician) Bryozoa from Baltoscandia, 19–27. In Larwood, G.P. & Nielsen, C. (eds) Recent and Fossil Bryozoa. Olsen & Olsen, Fredensborg.

Brookfield, M.E. 1988. A mid-Ordovician temperate carbonate shelf – the Black River and Trenton Limestone Groups of southern Ontario, Canada. Sedimentary Geology 60, 137–154.View article

Brown, G.D. & Daly, E.J. 1985. Trepostome Bryozoa from the Dillsboro Formation (Cincinnatian) in southeastern Indiana. Special Report of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Geological Survey 33,1–95.

Buttler, C.J. 1991. Bryozoans from the Llanbedrog Mudstones (Caradoc), North Wales. Bulletin of the British Museum (Geology Series) 47, 153–168.

Buttler, C.J. 1997. Ordovician Bryozoa from the Llandeilo Limestone, Clog-y-fran, near Whitland, South Wales. Bulletin of the Natural History Museum, London (Geology Series) 53, 117–134.

Buttler, C.J., Cherns, L. & Massa, D. 2007. Bryozoan mudmounds from the Upper Ordovician Jifarah (Djeffara) Formation of Tripolitania, north-west Libya. Palaeontology 50, 479–494.View article

Clarke, A. & Lidgard, S. 2000. Spatial patterns of diversity in the sea: bryozoan species richness in the North Atlantic. Journal of Animal Ecology 69, 799–814.View article

Cocks, L.R.M. & Torsvik, T.H. 2006. European geography in a global context from the Vendian to the end of the Palaeozoic, 83–95. In Gee, D.G. & Stephenson, R.A. (eds) European Lithosphere Dynamics. Memoirs of the Geological Society, London 32.

Conti, S. 1990. Upper Ordovician Bryozoa from Sardinia. Palaeontographica Italica 77, 85–165.

Cressman, E.R. & Peterson, W.L. 2001. Ordovician System. USGS, Contributions to the Geology of Kentucky,

Crow, C.J. 1985. Statistical significant faunal differences among Middle Ordovician age, Chickamauga Group bryozoan bioherms, central Alabama. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 17(7), 556.

Crow, C.J. 1997. Fossil distribution within a Middle Ordovician (Chickamauga Group) bryozoan-algal bioherm, Jefferson County, Alabama. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 29(3), 10.

Cuffey, R.J. 1998. An introduction to the type-Cincinnatian, 2–9. In Davis, R.A. & Cuffey, R.J. (eds) Sampling the layer cake that isn’t: The stratigraphy and paleontology of the type-Cincinnatian. Guidebook 13. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Columbus.

Cuffey, C.A. & Cuffey, R.J. 1995. The Chickasaw bryozoan reef in the Middle Ordovician of south-central Oklahoma. Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on the Ordovician Systém (Las Vegas) 77, 435–438.

Cuffey, R.J.&Pursell, B.F. 1995. A possible causal explanation for the Maysville bryozoan reefs (Upper Ordovician, north-central Kentucky). Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 27(3), 45.

Desrochers, A & James, N.P. 1989. Middle Ordovician (Chazyan) bioherms and biostromes of the Mingan Islands, Quebec. Memoir of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists 13, 183–191.

Dettmers, D. 2009. The stratigraphy and paleoecology of a hardground in the Grant Lake Limestone (Cincinnatian, Upper Ordovician) near Maysville, Kentucky.

Dronov, A.V. (ed.) 1997. Russian and International Bryozoan Conference «Bryozoa of the World», A Field Excursion Guide, 30 June – 8 July, 1997, St. Petersburg, Terra Nostra. Schriften der Alfred-Wegener-Stiftung 97/12, Köln.

Ernst, A. & Munnecke, A. 2009. A Hirnantian (latest Ordovician) reefal bryozoan fauna from Anticosti Island, eastern Canada: taxonomy and chemostratigraphy. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 46(3), 207–229.View article

Ettensohn, F.R., Amig, B.C., Pashin, J.C., Greb, S.F., Harris, M.Q., Black, J.C., Cantrell, D.J., Smith, C.A., McMahan, T.M., Axon, A.G. &McHargue, G.J. 1986. Paleoecology and paleoenvironments of the bryozoan-rich Sulphur Well Member, Lexington Limestone (Middle Ordovician), central Kentucky. Southeastern Geology 26, 199–219.

Freestone, A.L., Osman, R.W. & Whitlatch, R.B. 2009. Latitudinal Gradients in Recruiment and Community Dynamics in Marine Epifaunal Communities: Implications for Invasion Success. Smithsonian Contributions to Marine Sciences 38, 247–258.

Gault, H.W. & McKinney, F.K. 1980. Middle Ordovician sponge-bryozoan bioherms, Birmingham, Alabama. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 12, 177.

Hallam, A. 1994. An outline of Phanerozoic biogeography. 246 pp. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Hallock, P. & Schlager, W. 1986. Nutrient excess and the demise of coral reefs and carbonate platforms. Palaios 1, 389–398.View article

Harland, T.L. & Pickerill, R.F. 1984. Ordovician rocky shoreline deposits. The basal Trenton Group around Québec City, Canada. Geological Journal 19, 271–298.View article

Hay, H.B. & Cuffey, R.J. 1998. The Brookville Dam Spillway – Miamitown through Waynesville Formations (Upper Ordovician, southestern Indiana), 60–63. In Davis, R.A. & Cuffey, R.J. (eds) Sampling the layer cake that isn’t: the stratigraphy and paleontology of the type-Cincinnatian. Guidebook 13. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Columbus.

Holland, S.M. & Patzkowsky, M.E. 1996. Sequence stratigraphy and long-term paleoceanographic change in the Middle and Upper Ordovician of the eastern United States. Geological Society of America Special Papers 306, 117–129.

Horowitz, A.S. & Potter, P.E. 1971. Introductory Petrology of Fossils. 302 pp. Springer-Verlag, New York.

James, N.P. 1997. The cool-water carbonate depositional realm. SEPM Special Publication 56, 1–20.

James, N.P., Feary, D.A., Betzler, C., Bone, Y., Holbourn, A.E., Li, Q., Machiyama, H., Simo, J.A.T. & Surlyk, F. 2004. Origin of late Pleistocene bryozoan reef mounds; Great Australian Bight. Journal of Sedimentary Research 74, 20–48.View article

Jiménez-Sánchez, A. 2009. The upper Katian (Ordovician) bryozoans from the Eastern Iberian Chains (NE Spain). Bulletin of Geosciences 84, 687–738.View article

Jiménez-Sánchez, A. & Villas, E. 2007. Pre-Hirnantian Ashgill bryozoans of the Iberian Chains (NE Spain): an explosive rise before the catastrophic fall. In Álvaro, J.J. & Villas, E. (eds) IGCP Project 503. Regional Meeting and Field-trip Zaragoza 2007. Publicaciones Universidad de Zaragoza.

Kiernan, J.P. & Dix, G.R. 2000. The Hull Limestone (Upper Ordovician) of eastern Ontario: a Lower Paleozoic carbonate barrier- and lagoon system. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Eastern Section Meeting Abstract,

Kiessling, W., Flügel, E. & Golonka, J. 2003. Patterns of Phanerozoic carbonate platform sedimentation. Lethaia 36, 195–226.View article

Lambert, J.R., Ettensohn, F.R., Holbrook, A.L. & Stewart, A.K. 2001. Understanding bryozoan bioherms in the Tanglewood and Grier members, Lexington Limestone (Middle Ordovician), through modern, small, patch-reef analogues. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 33, 57.

Landing, E., English, A. & Keppie, J.D. 2010. Cambrian origin of all skeletalized metazoan phyla-Discovery of Earth’s oldest bryozoans (Upper Cambrian, southern Mexico). Geology 38, 547–550.View article

Li, X. & Droser, M.L. 1999. Lower and Middle Ordovician shell beds from the Basin and Range Province of the Western United States (California, Nevada, and Utah). Palaios 14, 215–233.View article

Lidgard, S. 2008. Predation on marine bryozoan colonies: taxa, traits and trophic groups. Marine Ecology Progress Series 359, 117–131.View article

Lidgard, S., McKinney, F.K. & Hageman, S.J. 1997. Species-rich bryozoans of the post-Paleozoic. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 29(6), 167.

McKinney, F.K. 1990. Feeding and associated colonial morphology in marine bryozoans. Reviews in Aquatic Sciences 2, 255–280.

McKinney, F.K. 2007. The Northern Adriatic Ecosystem. 299 pp. Columbia University Press, New York.

McKinney, F.K. & Hageman, S.J. 2006. Paleozoic to modern marine ecological shift displayed in the northern Adriatic Sea. Geology 34, 881–884.View article

McKinney, F.K., Webb, F. & McKinney, M.J. 2001. Middle Ordovician infratidal bryozoan-dominated microreefs (Bowen Formation, southwestern Virginia, USA). Memorie di Scienze Geologiche 53, 125–137.

Pratt, B.R. 1989. Early Ordovician cryptalgal-sponge reefs, Survey Peak Formation, Rocky Mountains, Alberta. Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists Memoir 13, 213–217.

Read, J.F. 1982. Geometry, facies, and development of Middle Ordovician carbonate buildups, Virginia, Appalachians. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin 66, 189–209.

Reid, C.M. & James, N.P. 2008. Climatic response of Late Paleozoic bryozoans: diversity and composition of Gondwanan faunas. Special Publication of the Virginia Museum of Natural History 15, 243–250.

Rockwell, L.A. & Cuffey, R.J. 1996. Great bryozoan diversity and sampling in the uppermost Ordovician (Whitewater Formation) at Caesar Creek (Southwestern Ohio). Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 28(6), 62.

Ross, J.R.P. 1963. Trepostome Bryozoa from the Caradoc Series, Shropshire. Palaeontology 6, 1–11.

Ross, J.R.P. 1972. Paleoecology of Middle Ordovician ectoproct assemblages, 96–102. Proceedings of the 24th International Geological Congress, section 7. Montreal, Quebec.

Ross, J.R.P. & Ross, C.A. 2008. Southern Tasmanian Upper Ordovician Bryozoa. Special Publication of the Virginia Museum of Natural History 15, 251–259.

Sanders, H.C., Geary, D.H. & Byers, C.W. 2002. Paleoecology and sedimentology of the Prasopora zonule in the Dunleith Formation (Ordovician), Upper Mississippi Valley. Geoscience Wisconsin 17, 11–20.

Schumacher, G.A., Swinford, E.M. & Shrake, D.L. 1991. Lithostratigraphy of the Grant Lake Limestone and Grant Lake. Formation (Upper Ordovician) in Southwestern Ohio. Ohio Journal of Science 91, 56–68.

Scotese, C.R. & McKerrow, W.S. 1990. Revised world maps and introduction, 1–21. In McKerrow, W.S. & Scotese, C.R. (eds) Palaeozoic palaeogeography and biogeography. Memoirs of the Geological Society, London 12.

Steele-Petrovich, H.M. 1988. Sedimentary mounds and washout depressions from the Middle Ordovician limestone, Ottawa Valley. Canada. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 58, 304–311.

Stock, C.W. & Benson, D.J. 1982. Occurrence and distribution of fossils within and adjacent to Middle Ordovician bioherms in the southern Appalachians of Alabama. Proceedings of the 3rd North American Paleontological Convention, Montreal, 2, 517–524.

Suttner, T.J. & Ernst, A. 2007. Upper Ordovician bryozoans of the Pin Formation (Spiti Valley, Northern India). Palaeontology 50, 1485–1518.View article

Taylor, P.D. & Allison, P.A. 1998. Bryozoan carbonates in space and time. Geology 26, 459–462.View article

Taylor, P.D. & Ernst, A. 2004. Bryozoans, 147–156. In Webby, B.D., Paris, F., Droser, M.L. & Percival, I.G. (eds) The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. Columbia University Press, New York.

Tourneur, F., Vanguestaine, M., Buttler, C.J., Mamet, B., Mouravieff, N., Poty, E. & Preat, A. 1993. A preliminary study of Ashgill carbonate beds from the lower part of the Fosses Formation (Condroz, Belgium). Geological Magazine 130, 673–679.View article

Tuckey, M.E. 1990. Biogeography of Ordovician bryozoans. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 77, 91–126.View article

Vennin, E., Alvaro, J.J. & Villas, E. 1998. High latitude pelmatozoan-bryozoan mud-mounds from the late Ordovician northern Gondwanan platform. Geological Journal 33(2), 121–140.View article

Vermeij, G.J. 1978. Biogeography and adaptation. Patterns of marine life. 352 pp. Harvard University Press, Harvard.

Vermeij, G.J. 1987. Evolution and escalation. 527 pp. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Webby, B.D. & Packham, G.H. 1982. Stratigraphy and regional setting of the Cliefden Caves Limestone Group (Late Ordovician), central-western New South Wales. Journal of the Geological Society of Australia 29(3/4), 297–317.

Winston, J.E. 1986. An annotated checklist of coral-associated bryozoans. American Museum Novitates 2859, 1–39.

Xia, F.S., Zhang, S.G.&Wang, Z.Z. 2007. The oldest bryozoans: new evidence from the late Tremadocian (Early Ordovician) of East Yangtze Gorges. Journal of Paleontology 81, 1308–1326.View article

Zhang, S.G., Xia, F.S., Yan, H.J.&Wang, Z.Z. 2009. Horizon of the oldest known bryozoans (Ordovician). Palaeoworld 18, 67–73.View article

Zuchsin, M. & Mayrhofer, S. 2009. Brachiopods from cryptic coral reef habitats in the northern Red Sea. Facies 55, 335–344.

Zuchsin, M. & Stachowitsch, M. 2009. Epifauna-dominated benthic shelf assemblages: lessons from the modern Adriatic Sea. Palaios 24, 211–221.View article