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Mid-late Devonian calcified marine algae and cyanobacteria, South China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2016

Qi Feng
Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology of Ministry of Education of China, and State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, 430074, China,
Yi-Ming Gong
Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology of Ministry of Education of China, and State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, 430074, China, Key Laboratory of Biogenic Traces and Sedimentary Minerals of Henan Province, Henan Polytechnic University, Jiaozuo, Henan, 454003, China,
Robert Riding
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-1410, USA,


Givetian, Frasnian and Famennian limestones from southern China contain microfossils generally regarded as calcified algae and cyanobacteria. These are present in 61 out of 253 sampled horizons in four sections from three widely spaced localities in Guangxi and southern Guizhou. Three of the sections sampled are Givetian-Frasnian-Famennian; one section is Frasnian-Famennian. They include reef and non-reef carbonates of shallow marine platform facies. The following taxa are identified with differing degrees of confidence, and placed in algae, cyanobacteria or microproblematica. Algae: Halysis, ‘solenoporaceans’, Vermiporella. Cyanobacteria: Bevocastria, Girvanella, Hedstroemia, Subtifloria. Microproblematica: ?Chabakovia, Garwoodia, ?Issinella, Izhella, Paraepiphyton, Rothpletzella, Shuguria, ?Stenophycus, Tharama, Wetheredella. As a whole, the abundance of algae, cyanobacteria and microproblematica increases by 34% from Givetian to Frasnian, and declines by 63% in the Famennian. This secular pattern of marked Famennian decrease does not support recognition of them as “disaster forms” in the immediate aftermath of late Frasnian extinction. Nonetheless, their survival into the Famennian could indicate tolerance of environmental stress, independence of changes in food supply, morphologic plasticity, and ability to occupy a range of habitats and depths. Uncertainties concerning the affinities of the problematic taxa hinder assessment of their significance.

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