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Relative abundances of conodonts stem from abiotic or biotic causes. High frequencies can result from: 1) biotic positive = high standing crop; 2) biotic negative = lethality (mass mortality); 3) abiotic positive = lag concentrates; 4) abiotic negative = starved sedimentation. Neither abiotic cause should substantially affect the taxonomic composition of the fauna, although either biotic cause—good or bad environmental responses—can and must.

Pennsylvanian conodont biofacies are clearly established and evidence of their interrelationships and complexity has continued to mount. We currently recognize no fewer than five levels of conodont biofacies:

  • Ia - Primary generic-level biofacies (examples: Cavusgnathus, Aethotaxis)

  • Ib - Secondary generic-level (“nested”) biofacies (examples: Ellisonia with Cavusgnathus, Hindeodus with Aethotaxis)

  • II - Species-level microbiofacies (examples: Idiognathodus delicatus with Missourian Idioprioniodus/Gondolella, Streptognathodus elegantulus with Missourian Aethotaxis)

  • III - Apparatus-level biofacies (examples: scottognathoid apparatuses least complete with Cavusgnathus, intermediate with Aethotaxis, most with Idioprioniodus in the Missourian)

  • IV - Ecophenotype variant-level biofacies (examples: perhaps two “species” of Ellisonia with contrasting apparatus plans and morphologies in the Desmoinesian, possible Cavusgnathus morphotypes from the Cavusgnathus- to the Streptognathodus-biofacies).

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