Gibbs, S.J., Shackleton, N.J. and Young, J.R.
Orbitally forced climate signals in mid-Pliocene nannofossil assemblages
Marine Micropaleontology, 51, (1), . (doi:10.1016/j.marmicro.2003.09.002).
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Downcore cyclic variation in high-resolution nannofossil abundance records from mid-Pliocene equatorial Atlantic ODP Sites 662 and 926 demonstrate the direct response by several Pliocene taxa (notably Discoaster, Sphenolithus and Florisphaera profunda) to orbitally forced climatic variation. In particular, these records display strong obliquity and precessional signals reflecting primarily high latitude, Southern hemisphere changes influencing upwelling intensity and local low-latitude, insolation-driven climatic changes (via the productivity and/or turbidity influence of Amazon-sourced terrigenous material) at Sites 622 and 926 respectively.
In seasonal studies of coccolithophorid assemblages, only part of the variation observed can be explained by abiotic processes, so it is perhaps not surprising that in this study few Pliocene nannofossil taxa demonstrate significant correlations with each other or with physical environmental parameters. Only some variance in nannofossil abundances can be explained by the primary controls of temperature and productivity. The rest is attributed to nonlinear responses to climatic changes; biotic processes such as grazing, predation, viral infection and competition, and/or, abiotic factors for which there is no readily available proxy (e.g. salinity). The lack of strong, consistent intra- and inter-relationships of the nannoflora and the environment reflects an ecologically complex, differentiated original community producing a complex integrated signal transmitted into the fossil record.
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