Planktic foraminiferal resilience to environmental change associated with the PETM

Carbonate-forming organisms play an integral role in the marine inorganic carbon cycle, yet the links 21 between carbonate production and the environment are insufficiently understood. Carbonate production is driven by the abundance of calcifiers, and the amount of calcite produced by each individual (their size and weight). Here we investigate how foraminiferal carbonate production changes in the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Ocean in response to a 4-5°C warming and a 0.3 surface ocean pH reduction during the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). To put these local data into a global context, we apply a trait-based plankton model (ForamEcoGEnIE) to the geologic record for the first time. Our data illustrates negligible change in the assemblage test size and abundance of foraminifers. ForamEcoGEnIE resolves small reductions in size and biomass, but these are short-lived. The response of foraminifersshowsspatial variability linked to a warming-induced poleward migration and suggested differences in nutrient availability between open-ocean and shelf locations. Despite low calcite saturation at high latitudes, we reconstruct stable foraminiferal size-normalised weight. Based on these findings, we postulate that sea surface warming had a greater impact on foraminiferal carbonate production during the PETM than ocean acidification. Changes in the composition of bulk carbonate suggest a higher sensitivity of coccolithophores to environmental change during the PETM than foraminifers.

Barrett R., Adebowale M., Birch H., Wilson J. D. & Schmidt D. N., in press. Planktic foraminiferal resilience to environmental change associated with the PETM. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. Article (restricted access).

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