MEPS 169:77-86 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/meps169077

Tolerance of benthic foraminifera (Protista: Sarcodina) to hydrogen sulphide

L. Moodley1,*, B. E. M. Schaub1, G. J. van der Zwaan2,3, P. M. J. Herman1

1Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Estuarine and Coastal Ecology (NIOO-CEMO), PO Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
2Department of Geology, Institute of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, Budapestlaan 4, 3584 CD Utrecht, The Netherlands
3Department of Biogeology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6525 ED Nijmegen, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Benthic foraminifera are dominant members of the meiofauna, commonly occurring below the anoxic-oxic interface in marine sediments. The absence of oxygen in marine coastal sediments is often correlated with the formation of hydrogen sulphide. In this study the tolerance of benthic foraminifera (from the northwestern Adriatic Sea) to hydrogen sulphide was examined experimentally. Although the foraminiferal assemblage exhibited a high tolerance to short-term exposure (21 d), prolonged exposure to sulphidic conditions (66 d with a final concentration of 12 µM dissolved hydrogen sulphide) resulted in a significant reduction of total foraminiferal densities with time. Reproduction was evident under oxic conditions but none of the genera proliferated under sulphidic conditions. This implies that tolerance of sulphidic conditions was restricted to survival and that sulphide may be a prominent distributional factor for benthic foraminifera.

KEY WORDS: Hydrogen sulphide · Meiofauna · Foraminifera · Laboratory experiments

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