Denison University / Franklin & Marshall College
A study was conducted on Unguja, an island off the eastern coast of Tanzania, to provide an overview of the paleoecology found in the cliff shelves across the island. It is known that Zanzibar was a submerged reef from the Neogene, approximately 23 million years ago (Ma). Two tests were carried out in 16 sites around the island. One test looked at coral fossils, while the other studied fossilized shells. Both tests measured biodiversity, with one specifically studying patterns of ocean currents, and the other studying nutrient levels and deposition rates. Biodiversity tests were inconclusive but coral diversity showed a decrease in trend from west to east, while mollusk diversity showed a decrease from east to west. The coral tests showed that the ocean current might have been transporting coral spores from the northeast part of the island. The mollusk test can be used to show how the depositional rates on the eastern part of the island were lower than the western, as well as that the nutrient availability was greater on the eastern side. Appendix I can be used to show what the reef may have looked like in the past, and can set a precedent for future studies of global climate change and show patterns of reef life in Unguja.
Biodiversity | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Burger, Meredith and Lerback, Jory, "Paleoecological Study of Unguja: Can Past Environments be Inferred from Fossilized Corals and Mollusks?" (2012). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 1277.