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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 01 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 01 Oct 2019

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

Foraminiferal community response to seasonal anoxia in Lake Grevelingen (the Netherlands)

Julien Richirt1, Bettina Riedel1,2, Aurélia Mouret1, Magali Schweizer1, Dewi Langlet1,3, Dorina Seitaj4, Filip J. R. Meysman5,6, Caroline P. Slomp7, and Frans J. Jorissen1 Julien Richirt et al.
  • 1UMR 6112 LPG-BIAF Recent and Fossil Bio-Indicators, University of Angers, 2 Boulevard Lavoisier, 49045 Angers, France
  • 2First Zoological Department, Vienna Museum of Natural History, Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna, Austria
  • 3UMR 8187, LOG, Laboratoire d'Océanologie et de Géosciences, University of Lille, CNRS, University of Littoral Côte d’Opale, 62930 Wimereux, France
  • 4Department of Ecosystem Studies, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Yerseke, the Netherlands
  • 5Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium
  • 6Department of Biotechnology, Delft Universityof Technology, 2629 HZ Delft, the Netherlands
  • 7Department of Earth Sciences (Geochemistry), Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Princetonlaan 8a, 3584 CB Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Over the last decades, hypoxia in marine coastal environments have become more and more widespread, prolonged and intense. These hypoxic events have large consequences for the functioning of benthic ecosystems. They profoundly modify early diagenetic processes involved in organic matter recycling, and in severe cases, they may lead to complete anoxia and presence of toxic sulphides in the sediment and bottom water, thereby severely affecting biological compartments of benthic marine ecosystems. Within these ecosystems, benthic foraminifera show a high diversity of ecological responses, with a wide range of adaptive life strategies. Some species are particularly resistant to hypoxia/anoxia and consequently, it is interesting to study the whole foraminiferal community as well as species specific responses to such events. Here we investigated the temporal dynamics of living benthic foraminiferal communities (recognised by CellTracker™ Green) at two sites in the saltwater Lake Grevelingen in the Netherlands. These sites are subject to seasonal anoxia with different durations and are characterised by the presence of free sulphide (H2S) in the uppermost part of the sediment. Our results indicate that foraminiferal communities are impacted by the presence of H2S in their habitat, with a stronger response in case of longer exposure times. At the deepest site (34 m), one to two months of anoxia and free H2S in the surface sediment resulted in an almost complete disappearance of the foraminiferal community. Conversely, at the shallower site (23 m), where the duration of anoxia and free H2S was shorter (one month or less), a dense foraminiferal community was found throughout the year. Interestingly, at both sites, the foraminiferal community showed a delayed response to the onset of anoxia and free H2S, suggesting that the combination of anoxia and free H2S does not lead to increased mortality, but rather to strongly decreased reproduction rates. At the deepest site, where highly stressful conditions prevailed for one to two months, the recovery time of the community takes about half a year. In Lake Grevelingen, Elphidium selseyense and Elphidium magellanicum are much less affected by anoxia and free H2S than Ammonia sp. T6. We hypothesise that this is not due to a higher tolerance of H2S, but rather related to the seasonal availability of food sources, which could have been less suitable for Ammonia sp. T6 than for the elphidiids.

Julien Richirt et al.
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Julien Richirt et al.
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Short summary
The paper presents the response of benthic foraminiferal communities to seasonal absence of oxygen coupled with presence of hydrogen sulphide, considered very harmful for several living organisms. Our results suggest that the foraminiferal community mainly responds as a function of the duration of the adverse conditions. This knowledge is especially useful to better understand the ecology of benthic foraminifera but also in the context of paleoceanographic interpretations.
The paper presents the response of benthic foraminiferal communities to seasonal absence of...