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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 285:29-42 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps285029

Population dynamics of benthic shallow-water foraminifera: effects of a simulated marine snow event

I. A. P. Duijnstee1,2,*, L. J. de Nooijer1, S. R. Ernst1,2, G. J. van der Zwaan1,2

1Department of Stratigraphy and Paleontology, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Budapestlaan 4, 3584 CD Utrecht, The Netherlands 2Department of Biogeology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED Nijmegen, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: In this microcosm experiment, we determined the population dynamics of benthic foraminifera from the northern Adriatic Sea (from 32 m water depth) and how they were affected by an artificial marine snow event (AMS). The study focussed on the performance of individuals in 2 different size fractions: one commonly used in micropaleontological studies (with foraminifera >63 µm) and 1 with smaller individuals (38-63 µm). Microcosms were incubated for 2 or 4 wk, and under AMS or control conditions. For each, the numbers of live (Rose Bengal-stained) individuals of different species in both size fractions were counted. From this, demographic parameters (fecundity, survival, growth) of specimens in different size classes were assessed. With these data, population projection matrices were constructed for the 4 most abundant taxa (Bolivina spp., Stainforthia fusiformis, Nonionella turgida and Hopkinsina pacifica) and all foraminifera together. From the limit properties of these matrices, asymptotic population growth rates (λ) were derived. The results indicate that numbers of larger benthic foraminifera decline more strongly because of AMS than those of the smaller individuals, and that growth is seriously inhibited. AMS, however, enhanced fecundity. Under AMS conditions (i.e. temporary anoxia and, concomitantly, extra food), the foraminifera seem to shift to an alternative life-history pathway of rapid reproduction and limited growth. After the first 2 wk, values of demographic parameters increase under AMS conditions, resulting in quickly recovering populations. In our view, these demographic characteristics are beneficial for the observed species in periodically stressful and disturbed ecosystems, and could explain the increasing success of these species in the progressively eutrophicated northern Adriatic Sea.

KEY WORDS: Living benthic foraminifera · Population dynamics · Population projection matrices · Marine snow · Anoxia · Microcosm experiment

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