Size analysis of planktic foraminifera from the Arabian Sea: Marine Micropaleontology,

F.J.C. Peeters, E. Ivanova, S.M.H. Conan, G.J.A. Brummer, G.M. Ganssen, S.R. Troelstra, T. van Weering, J.E. van Hinte

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Planktic foraminiferal faunas from different environments in the Arabian Sea were size fractionated using 14 sieves with meshes between 100 and 710 μm, to assess the effect of the sieve mesh size cut off level on the faunal composition and to determine the size frequency distribution of individual species. Nine samples from a plankton pump and a towed net, a sediment trap, a box-core and a piston core were selected, to cover living and settling flux faunas as well as fossil faunas from the sediment. In living faunas, most species show an exponential size frequency distribution, with highest numbers in the finest interval of the size spectrum. In sediment trap and core samples, individual species size frequency distributions may consist of: (1) an exponential distribution of relatively small pre-adult specimens; (2) a Gaussian-shaped distribution of larger specimens, which may be classified as adult or terminal; or (3) a combination of both. The distributions are separated using a best fit technique. The composition of the total planktic foraminiferal fauna strongly changes along the size spectrum. Dominant taxa in >355 μm fractions are Orbulina universa, Globorotalia menardii, Globorotalia tumida, Globigerinella siphonifera and Globigerinoides sacculifer, in 125-355 μm fractions Globigerina bulloides, Globigerinoides ruber, Neogloboquadrina dutertrei and Globigerinita glutinata, and in <125 μm fractions Dentigloborotalia anfracta, Tenuitella compressa, Tenuitella iota, Turborotalita quinqueloba and the immature specimens of larger species. Consequently, the choice of the sieve mesh size strongly determines the percent composition of the assemblage and in turn the paleoceanographic interpretations based on these counts. Species richness and the Shannon diversity increase with decreasing sieve mesh size, while equitability generally decreases with decreasing size. In the water column approximately 60% of the fauna (> 100 μm) is present in the 100-125 μm fraction and 1-6% is larger than 250 μm. In samples representing a settling flux (sediment trap and sediment samples) 29-57% of the fauna is present in the 100-125 μm fraction, while 6-23% is larger than 250 μm. Size frequency distributions of the dextral Neogloboquadrina complex (= Neogloboquadrina dutertrei and Neogloboquadrina pachyderma + P-D intergrades) show a bimodal pattern; a smaller peak reflecting dextral Neogloboquadrina pachyderma, and a larger peak of adult Neogloboquadrina dutertrei. By applying a best fit technique to the data, the two species may be separated from each other. In size fractions larger than 150 μm most species have reached the adult stage of ontogeny and we recommend this mesh size for standard faunal analysis. In addition, sieve mesh sizes of 125 and 250 μm have to be used to obtain a reliable estimate of the abundance of small and large species, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-63
JournalMarine Micropalaeontology
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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