Reconstructing the ecology of a Jurassic pseudoplanktonic raft colony: A Jurassic megaraft ecosystem

Aaron W. Hunter, David Casenove, Celia Mayers, Emily G. Mitchell

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Pseudoplanktonic crinoid raft colonies are an enigma of the Jurassic. These raft colonies are thought to have developed as floating filter-feeding communities due to an exceptionally rich oceanic niche, high in the water column enabling them to reach large densities on these log rafts. However, this pseudoplanktonic hypothesis has not been quantitatively tested, and there remains some doubt that this mode of life was possible. The ecological structure of the crinoid colony is resolved using spatial point process analyses and the duration estimates of the floating system until sinking using moisture diffusion models. Using spatial analysis, we found that the crinoids would have trailed preferentially positioned at the back of the floating log in the regions of least resistance, consistent with a floating, not benthic ecology. Additionally, we found using a series of moisture diffusion models at different log densities and sizes that ecosystem collapse did not take place solely due to colonies becoming overladen as previously assumed. Our analyses have found that these crinoid colonies studied could have existed for more than 10 years, even up to 20 years, exceeding the life expectancy of modern documented raft systems with possible implications for the role of modern raft communities in the biotic colonization of oceanic islands and intercontinental dispersal of marine and terrestrial species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200142
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

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