SEA URCHIN ASSEMBLAGES FROM THE MIOCENE OF SARDINIA AND THEIR RELEVANCE TO RECONSTRUCTING OCEANOGRAPHIC AND CLIMATE CONDITIONS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN TETHYS
These investigations have revealed: 1) mass accumulations of clypeasteroid echinoids including autochthonous assemblages to multiple in situ reworked accumulations in shore face environments, 2) specific studies on the distribution of morphotypes of the common genus Clypeaster, 3) echinoid assemblages dominated by various taxa of both irregular and regular echinoids in siliciclastic and carbonate shelf environments, and 4) the origin of well preserved monotypic shell beds of both regular echinoids and spatangoid from deeper water, siliciclastic environments.
Differences in the presence and diversity of the various echinoid taxa are related to biotic and abiotic ecological factors and preservation based on skeletal architectures and taphonomic bias. The distribution of faunal diversities and preservation potentials are shown along a gradient ranging from shoreface to deeper water. These are correlated to other echinoid biofacies occurring in the Miocene of the Mediterranean Tethys thus allowing the environmental, geographic and climate controls of these important benthic macrofaunal elements to be assessed and compared.