Historical collections of Scottish Carboniferous macrofossils stored at the British Geological Survey (BGS), Edinburgh include the sole remaining sources of palaeontological data from numerous localities. Exploratory numerical analyses of such collections from the Hurlet and Index limestones of Ayrshire compare favourably with published qualitative assessments of faunal assemblages and palaeoenvironments; demonstrating that old collections can still be used in modern palaeoecological investigations. Macrofaunas from these formations comprise mainly brachiopods and molluscs and were collected from 67 localities that yielded 20 and 94 samples from the Hurlet and Index limestones respectively. Limitations of the presence/absence data were partly overcome by consolidation and restriction of aspects of the data set. Seriation indicates the lithological and environmental gradients of taxa. Cluster analysis reveals groups of samples linked to lithofacies. Principal Components Analysis (PCA) of diversity data derived from the data set in terms of numbers of genera in higher taxa highlights differences in gross taxonomic composition in terms of trophic structure, lithology and environment.
Supplementary material: lists of localities taxa and sample lithologies used in this study are available at http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18401 .