The spatial distribution of in situ sessile organisms, including those from the fossil record, provides information about life histories, such as possible dispersal and/or settlement mechanisms, and how taxa interact with one another and their local environments. At Nilpena Ediacara National Park (NENP), South Australia, the exquisite preservation and excavation of 33 fossiliferous bedding planes from the Ediacara Member of the Rawnsley Quartzite reveals in situ communities of the Ediacara Biota. Here, the spatial distributions of three relatively common taxa, Tribrachidium, Rugoconites, and Obamus, occurring on excavated surfaces were analyzed using spatial point pattern analysis. Tribrachidium have a variable spatial distribution, implying that settlement or post-settlement conditions/preferences had an effect on populations. Rugoconites display aggregation, possibly related to their reproductive methods in combination with settlement location availability at the time of dispersal and/or settlement. Additionally, post-settlement environmental controls could have affected Rugoconites on other surfaces, resulting in lower populations and densities. Both Tribrachidium and Rugoconites also commonly occur as individuals or in low numbers on a number of beds, thus constraining possible reproductive strategies and environmental/substrate preferences. The distribution of Obamus is consistent with selective settlement, aggregating near conspecifics and on substrates of mature microbial mat. This dispersal process is the first example of substrate-selective dispersal among the Ediacara Biota, thus making Obamus similar to numerous modern sessile invertebrates with similar dispersal and settlement strategies.

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