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The correlation between macroscopic algae and metazoans in the Ediacaran: a case study on the Wenghui biota in northeastern Guizhou, South China

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After the Marinoan glaciation, macroscopic organisms thrived in the Yangtze Sea, South China, during the Ediacaran period. The Wenghui biota, which is found from the upper Doushantuo Formation black shales (>551 Ma) in northeastern Guizhou, South China, includes macroscopic algae, metazoans and ichnofossils. Most macroalgae in the Wenghui biota bear a holdfast to secure them onto seafloor and have a thallus of various lengths extending into the water column. This biota can be divided into Globusphyton, Sectoralga–Longifuniculum, Cucullus, Beltanelliformis and Baculiphyca–Gesinella assemblages. A fossil-barren interval containing a thin layer of feldspathic sandstone separates the macroscopic organisms into two distinct parts. From the Globusphyton assemblage through the Sectoralga–Longifuniculum assemblage to the Cucullus assemblage, metazoans show a positive correlation with the abundance and diversity of branching macroalgae at both metre and millimetre scales. Nevertheless, both Beltanelliformis and Baculiphyca–Gesinella assemblages, in which the number and diversity of macroscopic algae and metazoans, especially the shorter branching macroalgae, are obviously decreasing or even lacking, might be related to a special environment and a fragile ecosystem. In addition, the ratios of Ni/Co, U/Th and V/(V + Ni) display zigzagged profiles at millimetre scales indicating frequent redox fluctuations. Variations in macrofossils and trace elements at both millimetre and metre scales indicate that the oxygen content in the northeast Guizhou Sea fluctuated frequently during the middle–late Ediacaran period and the Wenghui biota possibly lived in the redox buffering zone. Moreover, the abundance and diversity of macroalgae, especially the branching macroalgae, could have significantly influenced the redox conditions in water column. The increase in oxygen may have improved the environment for the growth and reproduction of macroalgae and metazoans.
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Keywords: Ediacaran; South China; Wenghui biota; macroalga; metazoan; northeastern Guizhou

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Resources and Environments, Guizhou University, Guiyang, 550025, PR China 2: School of Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences, Beijing, 100083, PR China 3: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 153–8902, Japan

Publication date: October 3, 2014

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