Symbiotic interactions in the Silurian of Baltica

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Thirteen symbiotic associations occur in the Silurian of Baltica. Symbiosis was especially prominent among colonial animals, most commonly with stromatoporoids. These sponges hosted the most diverse fauna of endobiotic symbionts (including rugosans, Syringopora, ‘polychaetes’, cornulitids and lingulids). This pattern can be explained by the abundance of stromatoporoids in the Silurian of Baltica and their large skeletal volume, making them attractive hosts for smaller invertebrates. There is an evolutionary trend of an increasing number of different pairs of symbiotic taxa from the Llandovery to the Ludlow, with a remarkable increase in the Ludlow. This is likely related to an increase in the number of mutualistic taxa that could have had evolutionary advantages over organisms less amenable to symbiosis. The number of different pairs of symbiotic taxa also increased in the Wenlock, which may be linked to delayed recovery from the end‐Ordovician mass extinction.



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