Articles | Volume 12, issue 7
Research article
15 Apr 2015
Research article |  | 15 Apr 2015

Global analysis of seasonality in the shell flux of extant planktonic Foraminifera

L. Jonkers and M. Kučera

Abstract. Shell fluxes of planktonic Foraminifera species vary intra-annually in a pattern that appears to follow the seasonal cycle. However, the variation in the timing and prominence of seasonal flux maxima in space and among species remains poorly constrained. Thus, although changing seasonality may result in a flux-weighted temperature offset of more than 5° C within a species, this effect is often ignored in the interpretation of Foraminifera-based paleoceanographic records. To address this issue we present an analysis of the intra-annual pattern of shell flux variability in 37 globally distributed time series. The existence of a seasonal component in flux variability was objectively characterised using periodic regression. This analysis yielded estimates of the number, timing and prominence of seasonal flux maxima. Over 80% of the flux series across all species showed a statistically significant periodic component, indicating that a considerable part of the intra-annual flux variability is predictable. Temperature appears to be a powerful predictor of flux seasonality, but its effect differs among species. Three different modes of seasonality are distinguishable. Tropical and subtropical species (Globigerinoides ruber (white and pink varieties), Neogloboquadrina dutertrei, Globigerinoides sacculifer, Orbulina universa, Globigerinella siphonifera, Pulleniatina obliquiloculata, Globorotalia menardii, Globoturborotalita rubescens, Globoturborotalita tenella and Globigerinoides conglobatus) appear to have a less predictable flux pattern, with random peak timing in warm waters. In colder waters, seasonality is more prevalent: peak fluxes occur shortly after summer temperature maxima and peak prominence increases. This tendency is stronger in species with a narrower temperature range, implying that warm-adapted species find it increasingly difficult to reproduce outside their optimum temperature range and that, with decreasing mean temperature, their flux is progressively more focussed in the warm season. The second group includes the temperate to cold-water species Globigerina bulloides, Globigerinita glutinata, Turborotalita quinqueloba, Neogloboquadrina incompta, Neogloboquadrina pachyderma, Globorotalia scitula, Globigerinella calida, Globigerina falconensis, Globorotalia theyeri and Globigerinita uvula. These species show a highly predictable seasonal pattern, with one to two peaks a year, which occur earlier in warmer waters. Peak prominence in this group is independent of temperature. The earlier-when-warmer pattern in this group is related to the timing of productivity maxima. Finally, the deep-dwelling Globorotalia truncatulinoides and Globorotalia inflata show a regular and pronounced peak in winter and spring. The remarkably low flux outside the main pulse may indicate a long reproductive cycle of these species. Overall, our analysis indicates that the seasonality of planktonic Foraminifera shell flux is predictable and reveals the existence of distinct modes of phenology among species. We evaluate the effect of changing seasonality on paleoceanographic reconstructions and find that, irrespective of the seasonality mode, the actual magnitude of environmental change will be underestimated. The observed constraints on flux seasonality can serve as the basis for predictive modelling of flux pattern. As long as the diversity of species seasonality is accounted for in such models, the results can be used to improve reconstructions of the magnitude of environmental change in paleoceanographic records.

Final-revised paper