Copper incorporation in foraminiferal calcite: results from culturing experiments
Abstract. A partition coefficient for copper (DCu) in foraminiferal calcite has been determined by culturing individuals of two benthic species under controlled laboratory conditions. The partition coefficient of a trace element (TE) is an emperically determined relation between the TE/Ca ratio in seawater and the TE/Ca ratio in foraminiferal calcite and has been established for many divalent cations. Despite its potential to act as a tracer of human-induced, heavy metal pollution, data is not yet available for copper. Since partition coefficients are usually a function of multiple factors (seawater temperature, pH, salinity, metabolic activity of the organism, etc.), we chose to analyze calcite from specimens cultured under controlled laboratory conditions. They were subjected to different concentrations of Cu2+ (0.1–20 µmol/l) and constant temperature (10 and 20°C), seawater salinity and pH. We monitored the growth of new calcite in specimens of the temperate, shallow-water foraminifer Ammonia tepida and in the tropical, symbiont-bearing Heterostegina depressa. Newly formed chambers were analyzed for Cu/Ca ratios by laser ablation-ICP-MS. The estimated partition coefficient (0.1–0.4) was constant to within experimental error over a large range of (Cu/Ca)seawater ratios and was remarkably similar for both species. Neither did the presence or absence of symbionts affect the DCu, nor did we find a significant effect of temperature or salinity on Cu-uptake.