Altenbach, A.V., Lutze, G., Schiebel, R. and Schonfeld, J.
Impact of interrelated and interdependent ecological controls on benthic foraminifera: an example from the Gulf of Guinea
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 197, (3-4), . (doi:10.1016/S0031-0182(03)00463-2).
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Living and dead benthic foraminiferal assemblages from two size fractions, 63–250 ?m and >250 ?m, were studied at 128 stations from the shelves down to abyssal plains of the Gulf of Guinea in the eastern equatorial Atlantic. The sample size ranged between 300 and 400 cm2 of the sediment/water interface, with a penetration depth of 1 cm. Environmental parameters were quantified for sediment composition, food webs, bottom-water oxygen concentrations, and benthic oxygen respiration. Seven major station groupings (named G1–G7) are subdivided by factor analysis. The three most abundant species therein are discussed with respect to their ecological requirements, for both size classes and for living and dead counts. For 49 living species, the range of environmental gradients is established, and for five species live observations are reported. Five station groupings can be attributed toward stepwise ranges scaled by bathymetry and flux rates of organic carbon (G4, 27–75 m; G5, 68–269 m; G6, 250–740 m; G2, 674–2007 m; G1, 1475–4970 m). Two geographically restricted station groupings locally interfinger with other groupings in the upper bathyal and abyssal water depths (G7, 82–451 m; G3, 1002–4658 m). G7 shows lowered oxygen concentrations and benthic oxygen respirations, whereas hemipelagic sediments are typical of G3. The interfingering of G7 and G3, however, is not purely a result of the increasing number of species most perfectly adapted to these environments but rather that these groupings are structured by the decrease of species with lower tolerance towards environmental perturbation. In fact, the more common species have an environmental range much broader than the environmental frame of the groupings they dominate. This observation holds for all size classes and for live and dead counts. We conclude that species-specific preferences and thresholds provide a more valuable and more consistent tool in environmental research than the environmental ranges observed for assemblages.
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