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Article: Do brachiopods show substrate‐related phenotypic variation? A case study from the Burgess Shale

Palaeontology - Volume 60 Part 2 - Cover
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 60
Part: 2
Publication Date: March 2017
Page(s): 269 279
Author(s): Timothy P. Topper, Luke C. Strotz, Christian B. Skovsted, and Lars E. Holmer
Addition Information

How to Cite

TOPPER, T.P., STROTZ, L.C., SKOVSTED, C.B., HOLMER, L.E. 2017. Do brachiopods show substrate‐related phenotypic variation? A case study from the Burgess Shale. Palaeontology, 60, 2, 269-279. DOI: 10.1111/pala.12281

Author Information

  • Timothy P. Topper - Palaeoecosystems Group Department of Earth Sciences Durham University Durham UK (Email:
  • Luke C. Strotz - Biodiversity Institute & Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology University of Kansas Lawrence KS USA (Email:
  • Christian B. Skovsted - Department of Palaeobiology Swedish Museum of Natural History Stockholm Sweden (Email:
  • Lars E. Holmer - Department of Earth Sciences Palaeobiology Uppsala University Uppsala Sweden (Email:

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 22 February 2017
  • Manuscript Accepted: 18 January 2017
  • Manuscript Received: 18 November 2016

Funded By

Swedish Research Council. Grant Numbers: VR 2009‐4395, 2012‐1658
COFUND Junior Research Fellowship

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
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As sessile, benthic filter feeders, brachiopods share an intimate relationship with their chosen substrate. Individuals of Micromitra burgessensis in the Burgess Shale Formation are preserved in life position, attached to a range of hard substrates, including skeletal debris, conspecific brachiopods, sponges and enigmatic tubes. Here we investigate the phenotypic variability of Mburgessensis associated with differing substrate attachments. We apply geometric morphometrics to test for variation by plotting landmarks on the exterior of ventral and dorsal valves of Mburgessensis specimens that are preserved attached to different substrates. Using principal component, canonical variate analyses and anova, we determine that there is some variation in shape related to substrate. Canonical variate analyses, for ventral valves and dorsal valves, indicate that specimens attached to the same substrate are recognizable in shape from specimens attached to other substrate types. The strength of differentiation however, is not robust and combined with our discriminate analysis of separate populations suggests that there is the potential for substrates to exercise only weak control over the morphology of Brachiopoda.

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