Marine Biology

, Volume 144, Issue 5, pp 985–998 | Cite as

Benthic foraminifera assemblages at Great Meteor Seamount

Research Article


Foraminiferal assemblages found at Great Meteor Seamount were studied in August 1998. Communities of living foraminifera in surface sediments from the plateau (290–325 m water depth) and from the surrounding base (2,300–4,096 m) were compared in abundances, diversity, and species composition. In this oligotrophic region, densities were very low, but diversity was high. Highest numbers were observed at the deep stations north, south, and east of the seamount and at the shallow station in the north of the plateau. Lowest densities were recorded southwest of the plateau centre and at the lee side of the seamount. We explain this distribution pattern with variable amounts of fresh organic material, caused by local oceanic currents. Generally, plateau stations indicated coarser sediments, lower organic carbon content, and higher temperatures. The foraminiferal fauna showed bathyal to abyssal characteristics and similarities to assemblages previously described from other parts of the North Atlantic and other oceans. Several dominant species extended between the two habitats, on the plateau and in the surrounding deep sediments, but other species were found exclusively at deep stations, at plateau stations, or at the abyssal reference station.



We thank Wiebke Ruschmeier, Ulrike Honnert, and Tesfey Wubet for helpful support during sample collection and processing and the crew of F.S. “Meteor” for good collaboration during the cruises. This work received financial support from the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), BIGSET program (Biogeochemische Stoff- und Energietransporte in der Tiefsee), No. 03F0177C, and the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” (Grant No. HE 3460/1-1), which are gratefully acknowledged.


  1. Alongi DM, Pichon M (1988) Bathyal meiobenthos of the western Coral Sea: distribution and abundance in relation to microbial standing stocks and environment factors. Deep-Sea Res 35:755–790Google Scholar
  2. Altenbach AV (1988) Deep-sea benthic foraminifera and flux rates of organic carbon. Rev Paléobiol 2:719–720Google Scholar
  3. Altenbach AV (1992) Short term processes and patterns in the foraminiferal response to organic flux rates. Mar Micropaleontol 19:119–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Altenbach AV, Sarnthein M (1989) Productivity record in benthic foraminifera. In: Berger WH, Smetacek VS, Wefer G (eds) Productivity of the ocean: present and past. Wiley, Chichester, pp 255–269Google Scholar
  5. Altenbach AV, Pflaumann U, Schiebel R, Thies A, Timm S, Trauth M (1999) Scaling percentages and distributional patterns of benthic foraminifera with flux rates of organic carbon. J Foram Res 29:173–185Google Scholar
  6. Alve E (1999) Colonization of new habitats by benthic foraminifera: a review. Earth Sci Rev 46:167–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Backhaus K, Erichson B, Plinke W, Schuchard-Ficher C, Weiber R (1989) Multivariate Analysenmethoden, 5th edn. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Barnett PRO, Watson J, Connelly D (1984) A multiple corer for taking virtually undisturbed samples from shelf, bathyal and abyssal sediments. Oceanol Acta 7:399–408Google Scholar
  9. Bernstein BB, Meador JP (1979) Temporal persistence of biological patch structure in an abyssal benthic community. Mar Biol 51:179–183Google Scholar
  10. Bernstein BB, Hessler RR, Smith R, Jumars PA (1978) Spatial dispersion of benthic foraminifera in the central North Pacific. Limnol Oceanogr 23:401–416Google Scholar
  11. Boehlert GW, Genin A (1987) A review of the effects of seamounts on biological processes. In: Keating B, Fryer P, Batiza R, Boehlert G (eds) Seamounts, islands and atolls. Geophys Monogr 43:319–334Google Scholar
  12. Boltovskoy E, Lena H (1969) Les epibiontes de “Macrocystis” flotante como indicadores hidrologicos. Neotropica 15:135–137Google Scholar
  13. Buening N, Carlson SJ, Spero HJ, Lee DE (1998) Evidence for the Early Oligocene formation of a proto-subtropical convergence from oxygen isotope records of New Zealand Paleogene brachiopods. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 138:43–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Buzas, MA, Gibson TG (1969) Species diversity: benthonic foraminifera in western North Atlantic. Science 163:72–75Google Scholar
  15. De Stigter HC, Jorissen FJ, Zwaan van der GJ (1998) Bathymetric distribution and microhabitat partitioning of live (rose bengal stained) benthicforaminifera along a shelf to bathyal transect in the southern Adriatic Sea. J Foram Res 28:40–65Google Scholar
  16. Dietrich G, Kalle K, Kraus W, Siedler G (1994) Allgemeine Meereskunde. Gebr Bornträger, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  17. Ehrich S (1977) Die Fischfauna der Großen Meteorbank. Meteor Forsch Ergebn D 25:1–23Google Scholar
  18. Fontanier C, Jorissen FJ, Licari L, Alexandre A, Anschutz P, Carbonel P (2002) Live benthic foraminiferal faunas from the Bay of Biscay: faunal density, composition, and microhabitats. Deep-Sea Res I 49:751–785Google Scholar
  19. Gooday AJ (1986) Meiofaunal foraminiferas from the bathyal Porcupine Seabight (northeast Atlantic): size, structure, taxonomic composition, species diversity and vertical distribution in the sediment. Deep-Sea Res 33:1345–1373Google Scholar
  20. Gooday AJ (1988) A response by benthic foraminifera to the deposition of phytodetritus in the deep-sea. Nature 332:70–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gooday AJ (1993) Deep-sea benthic foraminiferal species which exploit phytodetritus: characteristic features and controls on distribution. Mar Micropaleontol 22:187–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gooday AJ, Lambshead PJD (1989) Influence of seasonally deposited phytodetritus on benthic foraminiferal populations in the bathyal northeast Atlantic: the species response. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 58:53–67Google Scholar
  23. Gooday AJ, Turley C (1990) Response by benthic organism to inputs of organic material to the ocean floor: a review. Philos Trans R Soc Lond A 331:119–138Google Scholar
  24. Gooday AJ, Levin LA, Linke P, Heeger T (1992) The role of benthic foraminifera in deep-sea food webs and carbon cycling. In: Rowe GT, Pariente V (eds) Deep-sea food chains and the global carbon cycle. NATO ASI series C 360. Kluwer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp 63–91Google Scholar
  25. Grevemeyer I (1994) Der Atlantis-Meteor-Seamount Komplex. Diss Zent Meeres- Klimaforsch C 5:1–126Google Scholar
  26. Haake FW (1977) Living benthic foraminifera in the Adriatic Sea: influence of water depth and sediment. J Foram Res 7:62–75Google Scholar
  27. Heinz P, Hemleben C (2003) Regional and seasonal variations of recent benthic deep-sea foraminifera in the Arabian Sea. Deep-Sea Res I 50:435–447Google Scholar
  28. Heinz P, Kitazato H, Schmiedl G, Hemleben C (2001) Response of deep-sea benthic foraminifera from the Mediterranean Sea to simulated phytoplankton pulses under laboratory conditions. J Foram Res 31:210–227Google Scholar
  29. Heinz P, Hemleben C, Kitazato H (2002) Time-response of cultured deep-sea benthic foraminifera to different algal diets. Deep-Sea Res I 49:517–737Google Scholar
  30. Hempel S (1985) Zur Verbreitung rezenter Foraminiferen auf dem südlichen südafrikanischen Schelf. Diploma thesis, University of KielGoogle Scholar
  31. Hessler RR, Jumars PA (1974) Abyssal community analysis from replicate box cores in the central North Pacific. Deep-Sea Res 21:185–209Google Scholar
  32. Hinz K (1969) The “Great Meteor Seamount”. Results of seismic reflection measurements with a pneumatic sound source, and their geological interpretation. Meteor Forsch Ergebn C 2:63–77Google Scholar
  33. Horn W, Hussels W, Meincke J (1971) Schichtungs- und Strömungsmessungen im Bereich der Großen Meteorbank. Meteor Forsch Ergebn A 9:31–46Google Scholar
  34. Hughes SE (1981) Initial U.S. exploration of nine Gulf of Alaska seamounts and their associated fish and shellfish resources. Mar Fish Rev 43:26–33Google Scholar
  35. Jannink NT, Zachariasse WJ, Zwaan van der GJ (1998) Living (rose bengal stained) benthic foraminifera from the Pakistan continental margin (northern Arabian Sea). Deep-Sea Res I 45:1483–1513Google Scholar
  36. Jones RW (1994) The challenger foraminifera. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  37. Jorissen FJ, De Stigter HC, Widmark JGV (1995) A conceptual model explaining benthic foraminiferal microhabitats. Mar Micropaleontol 26:3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kitazato H (1994) Diversity and characteristics of benthic foraminiferal microhabitats in four marine environments around Japan. Mar Micropaleontol 24:29–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kurbjeweit F, Hemleben C, Schmiedl G, Schiebel R, Pfannkuche O, Wallmann K, Schäfer P (2000) Distribution, biomass and diversity of benthic foraminifera in relation to sediment geochemistry in the Arabian Sea. Deep-Sea Res II 47:2913–2955Google Scholar
  40. Levy A, Mathieu R, Poignant A, Rosset-Moulinier M, Ubaldo ML, Ambroise D (1993) Recent foraminifera from the continental margin of Portugal. Micropaleontology 39:75–87Google Scholar
  41. Linke P, Lutze GF (1993) Microhabitat preferences of benthic foraminifera—a static concept or a dynamic adaption to optimize food acquisition? Mar Micropaleontol 20:215–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Linke P, Altenbach AV, Graf G, Heeger T (1995) Response of deep-sea benthic foraminifera to a simulated sedimentation event. J Foram Res 25:75–82Google Scholar
  43. Lohmann GP (1978) Abyssal benthonic foraminifera as hydrologic indicators in the western South Atlantic Ocean. J Foram Res 8:6–34Google Scholar
  44. Loubere P (1994) Quantitative estimation of surface ocean productivity and bottom water oxygen concentration using benthic foraminifera. Paleoceanography 99:723–737Google Scholar
  45. Loubere P (1996) The surface ocean productivity and bottom water oxygen signals in deep water benthic foraminiferal assemblages. Mar Micropaleontol 28:247–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Loubere P (1997) Benthic foraminiferal assemblage formation, organic carbon flux and oxygen concentrations on the outer continental shelf and slope. J Foram Res 27:93–100Google Scholar
  47. Lutze GF (1980) Depth distribution of benthic foraminifera on the continental margin off NW Africa. Meteor Forsch Ergebn C 32:31–80Google Scholar
  48. Lutze GF, Coulborn WT (1984) Recent benthic foraminifera from the continental margin of northwest Africa: community structures and distribution. Mar Micropaleontol 8:361–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mourino B, Fernandez E, Serret P, Harbour D, Sinha B, Pingree R (2001) Variability and seasonality of physical and biological fields at the Great Meteor Tablemount (subtropical NE Atlantic). Oceanol Acta 24:167–185Google Scholar
  50. Murray JW (1991) Ecology and palaeontology of benthic foraminifera. Longman Scientific, New York, pp 1–377Google Scholar
  51. Nienstedt JC, Arnold AJ (1988) The distribution of benthic foraminifera on seamounts near the East Pacific Rise. J Foram Res 18:237–249Google Scholar
  52. Ohga T, Kitazato H (1997) Seasonal changes in bathyal foraminiferal populations in response to the flux of organic matter (Sagami Bay, Japan). Ter Nov 9:33–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ohkushi K, Natori H (2001) Living benthic foraminifera of the Hess Rise and Suiko Seamount, central North Pacific. Deep-Sea Res I 48:1309–1324Google Scholar
  54. Pfannkuche O, Müller TJ, Nellen W, Wefer G (2000) Meteorberichte 00-1 Ostatlantik 1998. Cruise No. 42, 16 June–26 October 1998. Leitstelle METEOR. Institut für Meereskunde der Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, pp 1–254Google Scholar
  55. Platt T, Sathyendranath RS, Longhurst A (1995) Remote sensing of ocean colour: a vehicle for estimation of marine primary production at a regional scale. Proc Philos Trans R Soc Lond 348:191–202Google Scholar
  56. Rathburn AE, Corliss BH (1994) The ecology of living (stained) deep-sea benthic foraminifera from the Sulu Sea. Paleoceanography 9:87–150Google Scholar
  57. Rogers AD (1994) The biology of seamounts. Adv Mar Biol 30:305–350Google Scholar
  58. Sathyendranath RS, Longhurst A, Caverhill C, Platt T (1995) Regionally and seasonally differentiated primary production in the North Atlantic. Deep-Sea Res I 42:1773–1802Google Scholar
  59. Schiebel R (1992) Rezente benthische Foraminiferen in Sedimenten des Schelfes und oberen Kontinentalhanges im Golf von Guinea (Westafrika). Report 51. Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, University of Kiel, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  60. Schmiedl G (1995) Rekonstruktion der spätquartären Tiefenwasserzirkulation und Produktivität im östlichen Südatlantik anhand von benthischen Foraminifeenvergesellschaftungen. Ber Polarforsch 160: pp 1–207Google Scholar
  61. Schmiedl G, Mackensen A, Müller PJ (1997) Recent benthic foraminifera from the eastern South Atlantic Ocean: dependence on food supply and water masses. Mar Micropaleontol 32:249–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schönfeld J (1997) The impact of the Mediterranean outflow water (MOW) on benthic foraminiferal assemblages and surface sediments at the southern Portuguese continental margin. Mar Micropaleontol 29:211–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sen Gupta BK, Aharon P (1994) Benthic foraminifera of bathyal hydrocarbon vents of the Gulf of Mexico: initial report on communities and stable isotopes. Geo-Mar Lett 14:88–96Google Scholar
  64. Shannon CE, Weaver W (1963) The mathematical theory of communication. University of Illinois Press, UrbanaGoogle Scholar
  65. Simpson ESW, Heydorn AEF (1965) Vema Seamount. Nature 207:249–251Google Scholar
  66. Smart CW, Gooday A (1997) Recent benthic foraminifera in the abyssal northeast Atlantic ocean: relation to phytodetrital inputs. J Foram Res 27:85–92Google Scholar
  67. Stackelberg U von, Rad U von, Zobel B (1979) Asymmetric sedimentation around Great Meteor Seamount (North Atlantic). Mar Geol 33:117–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Thiel H (1970) Bericht über die Benthosuntersuchungen während der “Atlantischen Kuppenfahrt 1967” von F.S. “Meteor”. Meteor Forsch Ergebn D 7:23–42Google Scholar
  69. Thiel H (1975) The size structure of the deep-sea benthos. Int Rev Ges Hydrobiol 60:575–606Google Scholar
  70. Timm S (1992) Rezente Tiefsee-Benthosforaminiferen aus Oberflächensedimenten des Golfes von Guinea (Westafrika)—Taxonomie, Verbreitung, Ökologie und Korngrößenfraktionen. Report 59. Geol-Paläont Inst Univ KielGoogle Scholar
  71. Ulrich J (1971) Zur Topographie und Morphologie der Großen Meteorbank. Meteor Forsch Ergebn C 6:48–68Google Scholar
  72. Walton WR (1952) Techniques for recognition of living foraminifera. Contr Cushman Found Foram Res 3:56–60Google Scholar
  73. Wilson RR, Kaufmann RS (1987) Seamount biota and biography. In: Keating B, Fryer P, Batiza R, Boehlert G (eds) Seamounts, islands and atolls. Geophys Monogr 43:355–377Google Scholar
  74. Yentsch CS (1990) Estimates of “new production” in the mid-North Atlantic. J Plankton Res 12:717–734Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of GeosiencesTübingen UniversityTübingenGermany

Personalised recommendations