Geologica Belgica

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Quantitative analysis of Elasmobranch assemblages from two successive Ypresian (early Eocene) facies at Marke, western Belgium

(volume 15 (2012) — number 3)
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Mots-clés : Belgium, biodiversity, Elasmobranchii, ecological community, Ypresian, habitat requirements, sea level fluctuations


Temporal patterns in biodiversity are affected largely by changes in environmental conditions. Sea level fluctuations rank amongst the major factors that affect marine biodiversity or community structure on a local or regional scale, as confirmed by numerous case studies relating lithology with fossil assemblages in order to reconstruct palaeoenvironmental conditions. However up to now, few studies quantified  selachian and batoid faunas (Elasmobranchii) in such a context. In the present study, we compare elasmobranch teeth from two successive facies of Ypresian (Early Eocene) age, as exposed at the Marke clay pit in the southern part of the Belgian Basin. We present a significant link between the difference in lithology of these levels and elasmobranch community structure. In general, selachians are notably more common in clayey levels, while batoids predominate in sandy levels. Following the principle of uniformitarianism, such a link indicates that the recognised patterns in elasmobranch diversity depend mainly on the preferred sea level and/or habitat requirements by a species or a species group, in analogy to what is seen in modern communities. Additional notes on the palaeoenvironment are presented, as well as a list of 36 elasmobranch taxa from Marke, including a number of new recorded taxa for the Ypresian of Belgium.

To cite this article

Arne ISERBYT & Pieter J. DE SCHUTTER, «Quantitative analysis of Elasmobranch assemblages from two successive Ypresian (early Eocene) facies at Marke, western Belgium», Geologica Belgica [En ligne], volume 15 (2012), number 3, 147-156 URL :

About: Arne ISERBYT

Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium; E-mail:

About: Pieter J. DE SCHUTTER

Averbeekstraat 23/1.02, B-1745 Opwijk, Belgium; E-mail: