Pteropods are excellent recorders of surface temperature and carbonate ion concentration

Pteropods are among the first responders to ocean acidification and warming, but have not yet been widely explored as carriers of marine paleoenvironmental signals. In order to characterize the stable isotopic composition of aragonitic pteropod shells and their variation in response to climate change parameters, such as seawater temperature, pteropod shells (Heliconoides inflatus) were collected along a latitudinal transect in the Atlantic Ocean (31° N to 38° S). Comparison of shell oxygen isotopic composition to depth changes in the calculated aragonite equilibrium oxygen isotope values implies shallow calcification depths for H. inflatus (75 m). This species is therefore a good potential proxy carrier for past variations in surface ocean properties. Furthermore, we identified pteropod shells to be excellent recorders of climate change, as carbonate ion concentration and temperature in the upper water column have dominant influences on pteropod shell carbon and oxygen isotopic composition. These results, in combination with a broad distribution and high abundance, make the pteropod species studied here, H. inflatus, a promising new proxy carrier in paleoceanography.

Keul N., Peijnenburg K. T. C. A., Andersen N., Kitidis V., Goetze E. & Schneider R. R., 2017. Pteropods are excellent recorders of surface temperature and carbonate ion concentration. Scientific Reports 7: 12645. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11708-w. Article.

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