Unusual shallow water Devonian coral community from Queensland and its recent analogues from the inshore Great Barrier Reef

Zapalski, Mikołaj K., Baird, Andrew H., Bridge, Tom, Jakubowicz, Michał, and Daniell, James (2021) Unusual shallow water Devonian coral community from Queensland and its recent analogues from the inshore Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs, 40. pp. 417-431.

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Palaeozoic coral communities were dominated by two extinct coral groups: Tabulata and Rugosa. Whilst they are not closely related to modern Scleractinia, they are morphologically convergent, displaying many morphological characters that allow comparisons between recent and ancient coral reef communities. The extensive shallow-water reef communities of the Devonian were generally dominated by stromatoporoid sponges, with corals occupying deeper environments. Here, we describe an unusual, shallow water coral reef community from the Middle Devonian (Givetian, approx. 385 Ma) of the Fanning River area, Queensland, Australia. The coral community is dominated by tabulate corals, but also includes solitary and occasionally colonial rugose corals. Tabulate corals most commonly exhibit foliose and massive morphologies, but encrusting and branching growth forms also occur. The depositional environment was characterized by a shallow water depth, moderate hydrodynamic energy, high sedimentation rate, and high turbidity. Since these environmental factors influence the morphological composition of modern coral communities, we hypothesize that similar environments may result in morphologically equivalent coral assemblages throughout the Phanerozoic. To test this idea, we qualitatively compare the Fanning River reefs with modern scleractinian coral assemblages in a similar environmental setting at Magnetic Island. Both reefs are located in a shallow water less than 10 m deep, with high sediment flux, moderate wave energy, and generally high turbidity. Like Fanning River, Magnetic Island coral communities are dominated by foliose morphologies, with contributions from massive and branching forms. The Fanning River reef, together with previously identified Silurian and Devonian mesophotic coral ecosystems, suggest that Palaeozoic coral assemblages may share many functional characteristics with modern scleractinian reefs in similar environments. Therefore, the geological record of inshore, high turbidity-adapted coral communities can be traced back as far as 385 Ma.

Item ID: 67003
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Actualism, Givetian, Gondwana, Tabulata, varcus
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Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2022 05:19
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