ABSTRACT

Actualistic studies are important for evaluating the fidelity of fossil assemblages in representing the living community. Poor live-dead (LD) fidelity in molluscan assemblages may result from transport-induced mixing. Large-scale mixing is more common in siliciclastic settings with a narrow shelf, high sedimentation rate, and those that are frequented by episodically high-energy events. Chandipur-on-sea, on the east coast of India has an optimal setting to promote such conditions. By studying the LD fidelity and modeling size-frequency distribution (SFD) of the fauna, we attempted to evaluate the contribution of “out-of-habitat” versus “within-habitat” mixing in developing the molluscan death assemblage. The correlation between the composition of live (LA) and death assemblages (DA) was insufficient; unlike LAs, the DAs do not show environmental partitioning in ordination space. A numerical simulation of the shell size frequency distribution (SFD) for DAs from LAs was compared with the observed SFD of the DAs. The results of this simulation indicate that DAs are not likely to be a product of within-habitat mixing. DAs probably received considerable input via regional transport, facilitated by frequent tropical cyclones affecting the coast of Odisha. Chandipur receives a large proportion of cyclones originating above 15°N, which causes a high degree of lateral transport and shell mixing between 15° to 21°N, explained by the high compositional similarity of species within this latitudinal extent. Our study highlights the significance of out-of-habitat transport in shaping the regional distribution of marine fossil assemblages, especially in storm dominated siliciclastic shallow-marine settings.

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