Colonising skeletal substrates: Encrusters and borers from the Upper Jurassic oyster shell beds of Central Poland

Michał Zatoń, Adrian Szewczuk and Mirosława Kuziomko-Szewczuk (Poland) Skeletons of live and dead marine animals very often serve as a secondary hard substrate for various organisms that either encrust it (encrusters) or bore into it (borers). The terminology for encrusters and borers varies. However, following Paul Taylor and Mark Wilson’s latest and widely accepted terminology for organisms inhabiting hard substrate, those associated with skeletal substrates should be referred to as episkeletobionts and endoskeletobionts, respectively. Another, more convenient term is ‘sclerobionts’, as it refers to any organisms (encrusters or borers) inhabiting any hard substrate (biogenic or lithic, including skeletons of both live and dead organisms). Sclerobionts are diverse in marine ecosystems today, being represented by such various groups as sponges, corals, bivalves, polychaetes, bryozoans and brachiopods. They were also diverse in the past, being represented by different taxa during different epochs. And like today, they inhabited various kind of hard substrate, such as stones, shells and reefs, creating specific benthic communities that changed and evolved over time. Sclerobiotic assemblages are also very useful in ecological studies. As encrusters firmly adhere or cement to, and borers drill into, the substrates they colonise, they are always found as fossils where they had actually colonised. And as they play a crucial role in ecosystems, being both constructive (for example, as a component of reef frame-builders – the so called ‘binders’) and destructive (for example, as reef bio-eroders), there is a growing scientific interest in their ecology, which focuses on both Recent and past environments. … Read More

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