Encrusting Competition: How to Win the Battle of the Substrate – #365papers – 2017 – 55

#365papers for February, 24, 2017

Taylor, 2016, Competition between encrusters on marine hard substrates and its fossil record: Palaeontology, v 59, p. 481-497

What’s it about?

Some animals live by growing directly on other hard surfaces, forming a living surface ‘crust.’ This paper describes how such encrusting organisms interact and compete with each other over the surfaces upon which they’re growing.

Why does it matter?

Encrusting organisms are important on Earth. They are abundant, for example, as part of coral reefs. While it’s easy to understand how free-moving organisms compete with each other, understanding competition between encrusting organisms is more challenging. Observations of fossil and modern encrusting bryozoans help us understand how these types of organisms can interact and compete with one another.

Why did I read this?

This is another paper I picked out thinking it would be good to use in my paleontology course. I found this one like others when doing a search on the term ‘macroevolution.’ This paper is also about bryozoans, which, as they tend to be very small, are hard for me to teach about.

This paper is also great because of this single passage:

Potentially, my favorite sentence ever in a scientific paper.

“The effectiveness of the spines of D. alcicornis in spatial competition has yet to be demonstrated but their configuration invites comparison with the long spears in a defensive Macedonian phalanx from the sphere of human warfare.”

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