Licari, L; Mackensen, A (2005): Benthic foraminifera off West Africa (1°N to 32°S). doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.728220, Supplement to:Licari, Laetitia; Mackensen, Andreas (2005): Benthic foraminifera off West Africa (1°N to 32°S): Do live assemblages from the topmost sediment reliably record environmental variability?. Marine Micropaleontology, 55(3-4), 205-233, doi:10.1016/j.marmicro.2005.03.001
Recent benthic foraminifera (> 125 µm) were investigated from multicorer samples on a latitudinal transect of 20 stations between 1°N and 32°S along the upper slope off West Africa. Samples were selected from a narrow water depth interval, between 1200 and 1500 m, so that changes in water masses are minimized, but changes in surface productivity are important and the only significant environmental variable. Live (Rose Bengal stained) benthic foraminifera were counted from the surface sediment down to a maximum of 12 cm. Dead foraminifera were investigated in the top 5 cm of the sediment only. Five live and five dead benthic foraminiferal assemblages were identified using Q-mode principal component analysis, matching distinct primary productivity provinces, characterized by different systems of seasonal and permanent upwelling. Differences in seasonality, quantity, and quality of food supply are the main controlling parameters on species composition and distribution of the benthic foraminiferal faunas.
To test the sensitivity of foraminiferal studies based on the uppermost centimeter of sediment only, a comparative Q-mode principal component analysis was conducted on live and dead foraminiferal data from the top 1 cm of sediment. It has been demonstrated that, on the upper slope off West Africa, most of the environmental signals as recorded by species composition and distribution of the 'total' live and dead assemblages, i.e., including live and dead foraminifera from the surface sediment down to 12 cm and 5 cm, respectively, can be extracted from the assemblages in the top centimeter of sediment only. On the contrary, subsurface abundance maxima of live foraminifera and dissolution of empty tests strongly bias quantitative approaches based on the calculation of standing stocks and foraminiferal numbers in the topmost centimeter.