MEPS 456:87-99 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09684

Benthic foraminiferal assemblages from Kiritimati (Christmas) Island indicate human-mediated nutrification has occurred over the scale of decades

Jessica Carilli1,*, Sheila Walsh2,3 

1Institute for Environmental Research, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, Lucas Heights, New South Wales 2234, Australia
2Environmental Change Initiative, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA
3Present address: The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia 22203, USA

ABSTRACT: Community assemblages of live and dead benthic foraminifera from Kiritimati (Christmas) Island, Kiribati, were used to investigate changes in nutrification before and after human occupation. Benthic foraminiferal assemblages have previously been shown to have strong empirical relationships with water quality: mixotrophic, symbiont-bearing foraminifera dominate in clear, nutrient-poor waters, while heterotrophic and/or opportunistic foraminifera are more prevalent in polluted or nutrified waters. After human occupation, the proportion of mixotrophic taxa decreased significantly at all sites on Kiritimati with the largest decreases observed at sites with the highest fishing pressure. These changes in the benthic foraminiferal assemblage indicate that nutrification has occurred on Kiritimati over the scale of decades, possibly due to changes in trophic structure and nutrient cycling caused by fishing.


KEY WORDS: Coral reefs · Trophic structure · Fishing · FORAM Index · Foraminifera · Nutrification · Kiritimati


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Cite this article as: Carilli J, Walsh S (2012) Benthic foraminiferal assemblages from Kiritimati (Christmas) Island indicate human-mediated nutrification has occurred over the scale of decades. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 456:87-99. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09684

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