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Bulletin of Geosciences
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Czech Geological Survey,
W. Bohemia Museum Pilsen
ISSN: 1802-8225 (online),
Latitudinal distribution of bryozoan-rich sediments in the Ordovician
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,
AbstractMost 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.
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