Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Foraminiferal Assemblages on Sediments and Reef Rubble at Conch Reef, Florida USA
by Stephenson, Christy McNey, M.S., University of South Florida, 2011, 151; 1491245
Abstract (Summary)

Benthic foraminiferal assemblages are widely used to interpret responses of the benthic communities to environmental stresses. This study compares epibiotic foraminiferal assemblages, collected from reef rubble with those from sediments, at Conch Reef, Florida reef tract, USA. Conch Reef is the site of the Aquarius Underwater Habitat research facility and includes protected areas used only for scientific studies. Although a number of studies have enumerated foraminiferal taxa from the Florida reef tract, no projects have focused on the assemblages that occur at Conch Reef.

Sediment and reef rubbles samples were collected via SCUBA from a depth range of 13 to 26 m, at Conch Reef, Florida, during October 2008. Foraminiferal assemblages were assessed and compared between the two sample types. One hundred and seventeen foraminiferal species, representing 72 genera, 37 families, and 8 orders were identified in 17 sediment samples and 21 rubble samples.

Seventy genera were identified in the rubble samples, including 12 symbiont-bearing genera representing 20% of the total assemblage, 12 stress-tolerant genera representing 6%, planktic foraminifers representing 1%, and 46 other smaller foraminiferal genera representing 73% of the total foraminiferal assemblage. The rubble samples were quite homogenous. The mean (±SD) Fisher alpha [α] diversity of genera in these samples was 12.91 ± 1.41.

Sediment samples included 60 of the same genera as the rubble samples. The same 12 symbiont-bearing genera represented 41% of the total assemblage, 10 stress-tolerant genera represented 3%, planktic taxa represented 2%, and 40 other smaller foraminiferal genera represented 54% of the total assemblage. Assemblages were somewhat more variable between sediment samples, because several samples contained very few (<100) specimens per grams. Overall, the taxonomic assemblages were similar between the sample types, with sediment assemblages alone adequately representing the local foraminiferal assemblage. The mean (±SD) Fisher alpha α for sediment samples was 11.37 ± 2.27, which is not significantly different from that found for the rubble samples.

A concentration ratio comparing relative abundances in sediment vs. rubble samples (S/R) was developed. It revealed that smaller taxa were more abundant in the rubble, while shells of larger, symbiont-bearing taxa were about 2.5–5.5 times more concentrated in the sediment, indicating winnowing of smaller taxa. Shells of Siphonatera, an agglutinated miliolid, and Textularia, an agglutinated textularid, were more abundant in sediments than in rubble, indicating high preservation potential. The concentration ratio provides a new taphonomic index that reflects the size and durability of foraminiferal taxa.

The mean FORAM Index [FI] for the sediment samples (5.57 ± 0.83) indicates that water quality at Conch Reef is suitable for calcifying symbioses. The most abundant symbiont-bearing genera were Amphistegina, Laevipeneroplis, Asterigerina, and Archaias.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Muller, Pamela Hallock
Commitee: Daly, Kendra, Robbins, Lisa
School: University of South Florida
Department: Marine Science
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: MAI 49/05M, Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Ecology, Biological oceanography
Keywords: Benthic communities, Concentration ratio, Coral reef, Environmental indicators, FORAM Index, United States of America
Publication Number: 1491245
ISBN: 9781124595702
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