Benthic foraminifera living in Gulf of Mexico bathyal and abyssal sediments: Community analysis and comparison to metazoan meiofaunal biomass and density Academic Article uri icon


  • Benthic foraminiferal biomass, density, and species composition were determined at ten sites in the Gulf of Mexico. During June 2001 and June 2002, sediment samples were collected with a GoMex boxcorer. A 7.5-cm diameter subcore was taken from a box core collected at each site and sliced into 1-cm or 2-cm sections to a depth of 2 or 3 cm; the >63-mm fraction was examined shipboard for benthic foraminifera. Individual foraminifers were extracted for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) using a luciferin-luciferase assay, which indicated the total ATP content per specimen; that data was converted to organic carbon. Foraminiferal biomass and density varied substantially (~2-53 mg C m-2; ~3,600-44,500 individuals m-2, respectively) and inconsistently with water depth. For example, although two ~1000-m deep sites were geographically separated by only ~75 km, the foraminiferal biomass at one site was relatively low (~9 mg C m-2) while the other site had the highest foraminiferal biomass (~53 mg C m-2). Although most samples from Sigsbee Plain (>3000 m) had low biomass, one Sigsbee site had >20 mg foraminiferal C m-2. The foraminiferal community from all sites (i.e., bathyal and abyssal locales) was dominated by agglutinated, rather than calcareous or tectinous, species. Foraminiferal density never exceeded that of metazoan meiofauna at any site. Foraminiferal biomass, however, exceeded metazoan meiofaunal biomass at five of the ten sites, indicating that foraminifera constitute a major component of the Gulf’s deep-water meiofaunal biomass.

publication date

  • December 2008