Late Pleistocene glacial–interglacial shell-size–isotope variability in planktonic foraminifera as a function of local hydrography
Abstract. So-called "vital effects" are a collective term for a suite of physiologically and metabolically induced variability in oxygen (δ18O) and carbon (δ13C) isotope ratios of planktonic foraminifer shells that hamper precise quantitative reconstruction of past ocean parameters. Correction for potential isotopic offsets from equilibrium or the expected value is paramount, as too is the ability to define a comparable life stage for each species that allows for direct comparison. Past research has focused upon finding a specific size range for individual species in lieu of other identifiable features, thus allowing ocean parameters from a particular constant (i.e. a specific depth or season) to be reconstructed. Single-shell isotope analysis of fossil shells from a mid-latitude North Atlantic Ocean piston core covering Termination III (200 to 250 ka) highlight the advantage of using a dynamic size range, i.e. utilising measurements from multiple narrow sieve size fractions spanning a large range of total body sizes, in studies of palaeoclimate. Using this methodology, we show that isotopic offsets between specimens in successive size fractions of Globorotalia inflata and Globorotalia truncatulinoides are not constant over time, contrary to previous findings. For δ18O in smaller-sized globorotalids (212–250 μm) it is suggested that the offset from other size fractions may reflect a shallower habitat in an early ontogenetic stage. A reduction in the difference between small and large specimens of G. inflata between insolation minima and maxima is interpreted to relate to a prolonged period of reduced water column stratification. For the shallow-dwelling species Globigerina bulloides, no size–isotope difference between size fractions is observed, and the variability in the oxygen isotopic values is shown to correlate well with the seasonal insolation patterns. As such, patterns in oxygen isotope variability of fossil populations may be used to reconstruct past seasonality changes.