, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 323–336 | Cite as

Holocene trends in distribution and diversity of benthic foraminifera assemblages in atoll lagoons, Belize, Central America

  • Sandra Schultz
  • Eberhard GischlerEmail author
  • Wolfgang Oschmann
Original Article


Seven benthic foraminiferal assemblages were identified in vibracores through Holocene lagoons of three Belize atoll lagoons (Glovers Reef, Lighthouse Reef, Turneffe Islands). These include (1) the low-diversity Cribroelphidium assemblage (2) the Cribroelphidium-Elphidium assemblage (3) the Quinqueloculina-Triloculina-Peneroplis assemblage (4) the high-diversity miliolid assemblage (5) the Archaias-miliolid assemblage (6) the low-diversity miliolid assemblage, and (7) the mixed assemblage. Altogether, 109 species and 56 genera were identified. The highest diversities are observed in the largest lagoon (Turneffe Islands), whereas one of the smaller lagoons (Glovers Reef) exhibits the lowest diversities during the Holocene. No significant changes in diversity over time occur, however, a slight trend to higher diversity may be observed through the Holocene, suggesting that the foraminiferal faunas in the atolls are in a diversification stage. Faunal diversity in atoll lagoons appears to be controlled largely by habitat size, habitat heterogeneity, and water circulation. Habitat age and water depth only play minor roles. Substrate texture, water depth, and turbidity influence the predominant modes of life of benthic foraminifera encountered in the lagoons (epifaunal versus infaunal versus symbiont-bearing). Time-averaging effects were not observed, even though lagoonal sedimentation rates fluctuate in individual cores and the three lagoons, and despite the fact that sediments are modified through bioturbation by callianassid shrimps. This finding underlines the potential of benthic foraminifera for paleoecological studies in the fossil record of reefs and carbonate platforms.


Belize Reef Foraminifera Holocene Diversity 



We thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for funding this study with a grant (Gi 222/9). We are grateful to the LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Center for support. Harold Hudson (Miami), Nolan Jackson Jr., and Patrick Silverback (Belize) helped during vibracoring. Wolfgang Schiller (Frankfurt) operated the SEM during numerous sessions. Jens Fiebig (Frankfurt) ran the mass spectrometer. Justin Parker (Frankfurt) read the manuscript and made valuable comments. We thank the reviewers M. Kucera and J. Schönfeld for their comments that improved the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Schultz
    • 1
  • Eberhard Gischler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wolfgang Oschmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für GeowissenschaftenGoethe-UniversitätFrankfurt am MainGermany

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