, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 187–213 | Cite as

Recent benthic foraminiferal assemblages from cold-water coral mounds in the Porcupine Seabight

  • Joachim Schönfeld
  • Wolf-Christian Dullo
  • Olaf Pfannkuche
  • André Freiwald
  • Andres Rüggeberg
  • Steffi Schmidt
  • Janice Weston
Original Article


Cold-water coral ecosystems are characterised by a high diversity and population density. Living and dead foraminiferal assemblages from 20 surface sediment samples from Galway and Propeller Mounds were analysed to describe the distribution patterns of benthic foraminifera on coral mounds in relation to different sedimentary facies. Hard substrates were examined to assess the foraminiferal microhabitats and diversities in the coral framework. We recognised 131 different species, of which 27 prefer an attached lifestyle. Epibenthic species are the main constituents of the living and dead foraminiferal assemblages. The frequent species Discanomalina coronata was associated with coral rubble, Cibicides refulgens showed preference to the off-mound sand veneer, and Uvigerina mediterranea displayed abundance maxima in the main depositional area on the southern flank of Galway Mound, and in the muds around Propeller Mound. The distribution of these species is rather governed by their specific ecological demands and microhabitat availability than by the sedimentary facies. Benthic foraminiferal assemblages from coral mounds fit well into basin-wide-scale distribution patterns of species along the western European continental margin. The diversity of the foraminiferal faunas is not higher on the carbonate mounds as in their vicinity. The living assemblages show a broad mid-slope diversity maximum between 500 and 1,300 m water depth, which is the depth interval of coral mound formation at the Celtic and Amorican Margin. The foraminiferal diversity maximum is about 700 m shallower than comparable maxima of nematodes and bivalves. This suggests that different processes are driving the foraminiferal and metazoan diversity patterns.


Benthic foraminifera Epizoans Cold-water coral ecosystems Carbonate mound 



This work was funded by the European Commission through the FP6 Integrated Project HERMES (Hotspot Ecosystem Research on the Margin of European Seas), contract No. GOCE-CT-2005-511234-1, and FP7 Collaborative Project HERMIONE (Hotspot Ecosystem Research and Man’s Impact on European Seas), contract number 226354. The authors are grateful to captains, crews, and scientific participants on RV Meteor cruise M61 and R/V Poseidon cruises PO265, PO292, and PO316. Dr. Andy Henderson, gave access to foraminiferal slides from Henry Bowman Brady stored in the HMS Challenger collection at the Natural History Museum, London, and Sabine Dorst, IFM-GEOMAR, Kiel, scrutinised the foraminiferal references. The efforts of two anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joachim Schönfeld
    • 1
  • Wolf-Christian Dullo
    • 1
  • Olaf Pfannkuche
    • 1
  • André Freiwald
    • 2
  • Andres Rüggeberg
    • 3
  • Steffi Schmidt
    • 4
  • Janice Weston
    • 5
  1. 1.Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften IFM-GEOMARKielGermany
  2. 2.Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Abteilung für MeeresforschungWilhelmshavenGermany
  3. 3.Renard Centre of Marine Geology (RCMG), Department of Geology and Soil ScienceGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Universität Köln, Institut für Geologie und MineralogieKölnGermany
  5. 5.RPS Energy, Goldsworth HouseWokingUnited Kingdom

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