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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 09 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Vertical distribution of planktonic foraminifera in the Subtropical South Atlantic: depth hierarchy of controlling factors

Douglas Lessa1,2, Raphaël Morard1, Lukas Jonkers1, Igor M. Venancio3, Runa Reuter1, Adrian Baumeister1, Ana Luiza Albuquerque2, and Michal Kucera1 Douglas Lessa et al.
  • 1MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 2Programa de Pós-Graduação em Geoquímica Ambiental, Universitade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, 24.020-141, Brazil
  • 3Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Studies (CPTEC), National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Rodovia Pres. Dutra, km 39, 12.630-000 Cachoeira Paulista, SP, Brazil

Abstract. Temperature appears to be the best predictor of species composition of planktonic foraminifera communities, making it possible to use their fossil assemblages to reconstruct sea surface temperature (SST) variation in the past. However, the role of other environmental factors potentially modulating the spatial and vertical distribution of planktonic foraminifera species is poorly understood. This is especially relevant for environmental factors affecting the subsurface habitat. If such factors play a role, changes in the abundance of deeper dwelling species may not solely reflect SST variation. In order to constrain the effect of subsurface parameters on species composition, we here characterize the vertical distribution of living planktonic foraminifera community across the subtropical South Atlantic Ocean, where SST variability is small but the subsurface water mass structure changes dramatically. Four planktonic foraminifera communities could be identified across the top 700 m of the E–W transect. Gyre and Agulhas Leakage faunas were predominantly composed of Globigerinoides ruber, Globigerinoides tenellus, Trilobatus sacculifer, Globoturborotalita rubescens, Globigerinella calida, Tenuitella iota and Globigerinita glutinata, and only differed in terms of relative abundances (community composition). Upwelling fauna was dominated by Neogloboquadrina pachyderma, Neogloboquadrina incompta, Globorotalia crassaformis and Globorotalia inflata. Thermocline fauna was dominated by Tenuitella fleisheri, Globorotalia truncatulinoides and Globorotalia scitula in the western side, and by G. scitula in the eastern side of the basin. The largest part of the standing stock was consistently found in the surface layer, but SST was not the main predictor of species composition, neither for the total fauna at each station nor in analyses considering each depth layer separately. Instead, we identified a consistent vertical pattern in parameters controlling species composition at different depths, in which the parameters appear to reflect different aspects of the pelagic habitat. Whereas productivity appears to dominate in the mixed layer (0–60 m), physical-chemical parameters are important at depth immediately below (60–100 m), followed by parameters related to the degradation of organic matter (100–300 m), and parameters describing the dissolved oxygen availability (> 300 m). These results indicate that the seemingly straightforward relationship between assemblage composition and SST in sedimentary assemblages reflects vertically and seasonally integrated processes that are only indirectly linked to SST. This also implies that fossil assemblages of planktonic foraminifera should also contain a signature of subsurface processes, which could be used for paleoceanographic reconstructions.

Douglas Lessa et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Douglas Lessa et al.
Douglas Lessa et al.
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Short summary
We observed that living planktonic foraminifera had distinct vertically distributed communities across the Subtropical South Atlantic. In addition, a hierarchic alternation of environmental parameters was measured to control the distribution of planktonic foraminifer's species depending to the water depth. This implies that not only temperature, but also productivity and subsurface processes are signed in fossil assemblages, which could be used to perform paleoceanographic reconstructions.
We observed that living planktonic foraminifera had distinct vertically distributed communities...