Article: Early Ordovician (Arenig) trilobite palaeoecology and palaeobiogeography of the South China Plate
Faunal composition of South Chinese Arenig benthic trilobite associations is investigated using the multivariate techniques of TWINSPAN, DCA and seriation. Eight fairly distinct benthic associations can be differentiated, organized primarily along a palaeobathymetrical gradient across the Yangtze Platform in southern Shaanxi and western Hubei and the Jiangnan Transitional Belt in northern Hunan: the Taihungshania, Neseuretus, Trinucleid and Asaphid-Pseudocalymene associations (shallow shelf), the Asaphid-Raphiophorid and Nileid-Asaphid associations (< 100 m outer shelf), the Nileid-Illaenid Association (deep outer shelf carbonates) and the Pseudopetigurus Association (deep outer shelf clastics). The highest levels of diversity are displayed by the Asaphid-Raphiophorid Association of western Hubei. Investigation of the biogeographical affinities of this fauna indicates that South China is biogeographically closest to the other Chinese geotectonic units, and displays strong faunal connections to other central and eastern Asian regions as well as to Tethyan and South American regions. Subdivision of the South Chinese trilobite fauna into different depth zones shows a statistically significant correlation between increasing water depth and increasing faunal cosmopolitanism, although taxa endemic to China or Gondwana also occur even in slope faunas. The results of this biogeographical analysis are consistent with a tropical or subtropical peri-Gondwanan association of South China with other Asian terranes.