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21 January 2018 Evidence for stratigraphy in molluscan death assemblages preserved in seagrass beds: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Kelsey M. Arkle, Arnold I. Miller
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Death assemblages that occupy the upper tens of centimeters of sediment in shallow-marine settings are often subject to extensive mixing, thereby limiting their usefulness in assessing environmentally mediated compositional changes through time in the local biota. Here, we provide evidence that dense, Thalassia-rich seagrass beds preserve a stratigraphic record of biotic variation because their dense root-rhizome mats inhibit mixing. We sampled benthic mollusk assemblages at seven localities in Thalassia-rich beds around St. Croix, USVI, collecting three separate sediment intervals of ∼13cm each to a total depth of ∼40 cm below the sediment-water interface, and found evidence that sedimentary intervals preserved compositional stratigraphy. Further, some localities displayed systematic, directional changes down-core. An examination of interval-to-interval changes in composition revealed that compositional variation was unique from locality to locality rather than reflecting coordinated, islandwide transitions. In general, however, relative abundances of epifaunal gastropods and small lucinid bivalves tended to decrease with depth below the sediment-water interface. Quantitative comparisons of life-to-death assemblages from each successive sedimentary interval demonstrated that the shallowest death assemblages were typically more similar to the life assemblages than were deeper assemblages, suggesting that deeper intervals provide records of earlier community states.

© 2018 The Paleontological Society. All rights reserved.
Kelsey M. Arkle and Arnold I. Miller "Evidence for stratigraphy in molluscan death assemblages preserved in seagrass beds: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands," Paleobiology 44(1), 155-170, (21 January 2018).
Accepted: 1 August 2017; Published: 21 January 2018
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