Does foraminiferal test size reflect changes in palaeoenvironmental conditions?—a case study from the southern Svalbard shelf

Keywords: Foraminifera, deglaciation, Holocene, size, palaeoecology, palaeoenvironment


Although the environmental factors influencing the growth rate and reproduction of benthic foraminifera are known, the relationship between foraminifera test size and environmental variables remains unclear, especially on geological timescales. In this article, we present two records of benthic foraminiferal test size over the last 14 000 years from the southern Svalbard shelf. We use statistical correlation to relate test size changes with environmental conditions recorded by other proxies, including benthic δ18O and δ13C, foraminiferal flux and abundance, and relative abundances of different ecologically indicative foraminiferal groups. The general trends in test size were relatively consistent between the two cores. Still, we found that none of the analysed proxies was statistically correlated with the test size in both records. This leads to a conclusion that foraminifera size is primarily impacted by local oceanographic conditions. These local conditions are partly influenced by global oceanographic transitions. Therefore, large-scale changes can have a secondary impact on foraminiferal test size. The analysis of test size correlation between species similarly revealed that not all species react consistently to environmental changes. Our results indicate that foraminiferal test size cannot be used as a universal and straightforward proxy, but in combination with other methods it can yield valuable palaeoenvironmental information.


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How to Cite
Telesiński M. M., Szymańska N., Pawłowska J., & Zajączkowski M. (2020). Does foraminiferal test size reflect changes in palaeoenvironmental conditions?—a case study from the southern Svalbard shelf. Polar Research, 39.
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