Benthic foraminiferal shell weight: Deglacial species-specific responses from the Santa Barbara Basin

Here we present a record of size-normalized shell weight for four species of benthic foraminifera through a period of rapid environmental change during the most recent deglaciation (Santa Barbara Basin, CA). A strong Oxygen Minimum Zone (OMZ), the product of high surface productivity and poor ventilation, characterizes the eastern Pacific; this subsurface zone is mechanistically coupled with high concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon. The OMZ migrated vertically during warming of the last deglaciation, leading to rapid shifts in the oxygenation and inorganic carbon system of the benthos. The size-normalized weight (SNW) of benthic foraminifers Uvigerina peregrina, Bolivina interjuncta, and Bolivina tumida reflects only the broad trends of the vertical migration of the OMZ, and inorganic carbon system, overshadowed by clear species-specific trends. The relative importance of OMZ migrations versus other environmental variables and optimal growth conditions differs across species of benthic foraminifera. In U. peregrina, SNW primarily peaks with foraminiferal density and increased abundance of that species, while B. interjuncta and B. tumida increase in SNW with a shrinking of the OMZ (and carbon maximum) in the late Holocene. Bolivina argentea shows no long-term trends in SNW potentially due to its ability to migrate through the sediment. Our results suggest that, while inorganic carbon and dissolved oxygen may play a role in determining shell weight across species of benthic foraminifera, neither parameter alone is responsible for changes in benthic foraminiferal shell weight in the fossil record.

Davis C. V., Myhre S. E. & Hill T. M., 2016. Benthic foraminiferal shell weight: Deglacial species-specific responses from the Santa Barbara Basin. Marine Micropaleontology 124:45–53. Article (subscription required).

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