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The utility of height for the Ediacaran organisms of Mistaken Point

Nature Ecology & Evolution (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Ediacaran fossil communities consist of the oldest macroscopic eukaryotic organisms. Increased size (height) is hypothesized to be driven by competition for water column resources, leading to vertical/epifaunal tiering and morphological innovations such as stems. Using spatial analyses, we find no correlation between tiering and resource competition, and that stemmed organisms are not tiered. Instead, we find that height is correlated with greater offspring dispersal, demonstrating the importance of colonization potential over resource competition.

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Acknowledgements

We thank N. Butterfield and A. Liu for discussions on this manuscript. The Parks and Natural Areas Division, Department of Environment and Conservation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador provided permits to conduct research within the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in 2010, 2016 and 2017. This work has been supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant number NE/P002412/1), a Gibbs Travelling Fellowship from Newnham College, Cambridge and a Henslow Junior Research Fellowship from the Cambridge Philosophical Society to E.G.M.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

    • Emily G. Mitchell
    •  & Charlotte G. Kenchington
  2. Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada

    • Charlotte G. Kenchington

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Contributions

E.G.M. and C.G.K. conceived the project, discussed the results and prepared the manuscript. E.G.M. conceived and ran the analyses.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Emily G. Mitchell.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0591-6