One of the earliest endosymbiotic associations with stromatoporoids occurs in the Late Ordovician Xiazhen Formation of southeastern China. Bajgolia, an auloporid tabulate coral characterized by dichotomous branching due to longitudinal fission, is represented by free-living as well as endobiontic forms in various lithofacies representing a wide range of environments. Only two of 11 stromatoporoid genera (Clathrodictyon and Ecclimadictyon) hosted Bajgolia, mainly in reef and related facies. Bajgolia–stromatoporoid associations occur occasionally in the lower part of the formation, but eventually become persistent in the upper part. Such associations were initiated by larval settlement of the coral on the growth surface of the stromatoporoid. Growth of Bajgolia usually kept pace with its host, but the coral's ability to change growth direction and grow faster prevented its envelopment and termination by the stromatoporoid, allowing the establishment and recurrence of an ongoing endosymbiotic relationship between the two organisms. Endobiontic Bajgolia was able to survive with its corallites protruding from the host; in some cases, the growth form of the stromatoporoid changed in response to the coral. The relationships between Bajgolia and stromatoporoids were probably commensal, but there is also evidence for mutualism and/or parasitism. Bajgolia–stromatoporoid associations represent an important stage in the development of complex ecological relationships and community structure, prior to the common and widespread syringoporid (“caunopore tubes”)–stromatoporoid associations in the Siluro-Devonian.
- Clathrodictyid stromatoporoid
- Coral–stromatoporoid intergrowth
- Tabulate coral
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Earth-Surface Processes