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The benthic foraminifera cassidulina from the Arctic Ocean: Application to paleoceanography and biostratigraphy

May 14, 2019

We investigated the morphology, biostratigraphy, shell stable isotope composition and paleogeography of the common Arctic benthic foraminifera, Cassidulina teretis (Tappan 1951) (sometimes assigned to Islandiella (Nørvang 1958), for application to Quaternary paleoceanography. Cassidulina teretis, which has been studied by several generations of Arctic foraminiferal specialists, is used in Arctic Ocean paleoceanographic reconstructions based on foraminiferal assemblages and, increasingly, isotope shell chemistry. Here we review its modern and fossil distribution including discussions of its taxonomy, ecology, biostratigraphy and shell chemistry. Cassidulina teretis Tappan 1951, originally described from the Gubik Formation, northern Alaska coastal plain, has variability in test size, apertural morphology and development of an umbilical boss representing intra- and inter-population differences across the Arctic and subarctic in modern, Quaternary and Pliocene assemblages. Nonetheless, our studies and those previously published lead us to conclude that populations from the Arctic Ocean represent a single species proposed by Tappan as Cassidulina teretis. Its modern distribution is mainly 200 to 1000 m water depth, often living within the core of the relatively warm Atlantic Layer. However, shallower occurrences suggest other factors, such as food supply, are also critical to its ecology. The Holocene distribution of Cassidulina teretis in the Beaufort Sea boundary indicate millennial-scale changes in relative abundance related to changing Atlantic Layer influence, sea-ice cover, surface productivity and food availability. There are extremely large changes in its abundance during the last deglacial interval on the Yermak Plateau, Barents Sea slope and the Laptev Sea reflecting rapid ocean changes during the Bølling-Allerød, Younger Dryas, and Preboreal. Similarly, C. teretis abundance changes during the last 300,000 years allow us to use it, at least regionally, as a useful biostratigraphic marker. The stable isotopic composition of Cassidulina teretis tests holds promise for establishing an isotope stratigraphy across the Arctic Ocean and perhaps also in the Nordic Seas, off Iceland and in the northern North Atlantic Ocean, once disequilibrium values and offsets from other Arctic benthic species are more firmly established.

Publication Year 2019
Title The benthic foraminifera cassidulina from the Arctic Ocean: Application to paleoceanography and biostratigraphy
Authors Thomas M. Cronin, Julia Seidenstein, Katherine Keller, Kristin McDougall-Reid, Ana Reufer, Laura Gemery
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Micropaleontology
Index ID 70220452
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Florence Bascom Geoscience Center