, Volume 157, Issue 6, pp 1171-1180
Date: 09 Feb 2010

Interpreting seawater temperature range using oxygen isotopes and zooid size variation in Pentapora foliacea (Bryozoa)

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This is the first investigation of how two independent proxies for seawater temperature inference (zooid size variation and oxygen isotope ratios of skeletal carbonate) relate to the actual measured ranges of temperature experienced by cheilostome bryozoan colonies. Nine specimens of the bimineralic marine cheilostome bryozoan Pentapora foliacea (Ellis and Solander, 1786) were analysed, collected from ~18-m depth at two localities in Wales, UK—four from Skomer Island (51°42′510″N, 5°13′42.60″W) and five from Porth Ysgaden, Lleyn Peninsula (52°54′6.75″N, 4°38′47.34″W). The annual range of temperature implied by zooid size variability provides a good approximation of the actual range of temperature recorded by a datalogger. However, annual ranges of temperature reconstructed from skeletal oxygen isotope ratios were narrower, typically not showing the lowest temperatures experienced by the colonies. This can be explained by progressive thickening of zooid skeletal walls during the life of the colony that homogenises the temperature signal by time-averaging over the lifetime of the colonies. Our study provides evidence that a combined morphological isotope approach has great potential in the reconstruction of annual ranges in seawater temperatures from historical and fossil bryozoans, particularly for species that lack ontogenetic skeletal wall thickening and bimineralic skeletal composition. As cheilostome bryozoans have been common in benthic communities since the Late Cretaceous, they represent a valuable and underutilised resource for the interpretation of environmental regimes.

Communicated by J. P. Grassle.