Rendiconti Lincei. Scienze Fisiche e Naturali

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 547–557 | Cite as

Foraminiferal ecozones in two submarine caves of the Orosei Gulf (Sardinia, Italy)

  • Luisa Bergamin
  • Andrea Marassich
  • Claudio Provenzani
  • Elena RomanoEmail author
Changes and Crises in the Mediterranean Sea


Because submarine caves are affected by wide spatial and temporal environmental variability, they are ideal environments for studying the effects of environmental changes on ecological indicators. Benthic foraminifera are protozoa living in marine and transitional habitats, developing typical assemblages as a response to different environmental conditions. For this, they have been increasingly used as ecological indicators for environmental characterization and monitoring. This study was the first one aimed to compare benthic foraminiferal fauna of two different submarine caves of temperate areas, Bel Torrente and Bue Marino, in the Orosei Gulf (Sardinia, Italy). It resumes the main results obtained in Bel Torrente cave by a previous research, implemented by new data acquired by the study of Bue Marino cave. The caves were surveyed and sampled by GUE (Global Underwater Explorers) divers for the first 450 m to recognize distinct ecozones, their ecological significance, and to compare them as regards species composition and extent. The succession of Marine, Entrance and Transitional Ecozones was recognized in both the caves. While the Marine Ecozone pointed out environmental conditions very similar to those of shallow water marine environment, the Entrance and Transitional Ecozones indicated increasing environmental stress. In the Entrance Ecozone, the dominance of tolerant species was probably due to the high environmental variability for the episodic high energy floods and, locally, reduced oxygenation events. In the Transitional Ecozone, the decrease of seawater salinity and temperature, especially after rainy periods, probably encouraged the prevalence of agglutinated taxa, which are normally rare in Mediterranean shallow water marine environment, while they are common in high latitude basins.


Submarine cave Benthic foraminifera Ecological indicators Orosei Gulf 



The authors are grateful to Maria Celia Magno and Giancarlo Pierfranceschi for grain size analyses. They also greatly appreciated the work done by Global Underwater Explorers and their divers (Anton van Rosmalen, Dorota Czerny, Ineke Van Daele, Jan Duikt, Jonas Patteet, Katja Muermans, Marco Colman, Matthias Trappeniers, Onno van Eijk, Peter Brandt, Ricardo Constantino, Sander Jansson), during the project. Many thanks also to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

12210_2018_700_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 24 kb)


  1. Alve E (1995) Benthic foraminiferal response to estuarine pollution: a review. J Foraminiferal Res 25(3):190–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alve E, Goldstein ST (2003) Propagule transport as a key method of dispersal in benthic foraminifera (Protista). Limnol Oceanogr 48(6):2163–2170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alve E, Goldstein ST (2010) Dispersal, survival and delayed growth of benthic foraminiferal propagules. J Sea Res 63:36–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buosi C, Armynot du Châtelet E, Cherchi A (2012) Benthic foraminiferal assemblages in the current-dominated strait of Bonifacio (Mediterranean Sea). J Foraminiferal Res 42(1):39–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buosi C, Cherchi A, Ibba A, Marras B, Marrucci A, Schintu M (2013) Preliminary data on benthic foraminiferal assemblages and sedimentological characterization from some polluted and unpolluted coastal areas of Sardinia (Italy). Boll Soc Paleontol Ital 52(1):35–44Google Scholar
  6. Cherchi A, Da Pelo S, Ibba A, Mana D, Buosi C, Floris N (2009) Benthic foraminifera response and geochemical characterization of the coastal environment surrounding the polluted industrial area of Portovesme (South-Western Sardinia, Italy). Mar Poll Bull 59:281–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cimerman F, Langer MR (1991) Mediterranean Foraminifera. Academia Scientiarum et Artium Slovenica, Ljubljana 30:1–11Google Scholar
  8. de Stigter HC, Jorissen FJ, van der Zwaan GJ (1996) Bathymetric distribution and microhabitat partitioning of live (Rose Bengal stained) benthic foraminifera along a shelf to deep sea transect in the southern Adriatic Sea. In: de Stigter HC (ed) Recent and fossil benthic foraminifera in the Adriatic Sea: distribution patterns in relation to organic flux and oxygen concentration at the seabed. Geol Ultraiect 144:39–69Google Scholar
  9. De Waele J (2004) Geomorphologic evolution of a coastal karst: the gulf of Orosei (central-east Sardinia, Italy). Acta Carsol 33(2):37–54Google Scholar
  10. De Waele J (2005) The hydrogeological rebus of the coastal karst of Orosei (East Sardinia, Italy). In: Proceedings of the 14th International Congress of Speleology, Kalamos, Hellas, 21-28 August 2005, p 4Google Scholar
  11. De Waele J, Schafheutle M, Waelede T (2009) Speleogenesis of extensive underwater caves along the gulf of Orosei (Central-east Sardinia, Italy). In: Proceedings 15th International Congress of Speleology, Kerrville, Texas (USA), July 19–26, vol 1, pp 469–474Google Scholar
  12. Fancello L, Fileccia A, Mazzoli M (2000) La grotta del Bel Torrente. Speleologia 43:67–69Google Scholar
  13. Fisher RA, Corbet AS, Williams CB (1943) The relationship between the number of species and the number of individuals in a random sample of an animal population. J Anim Ecol 12:42–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hammer Ø, Harper DAT, Ryan PD (2001) PAST: paleontological statistic software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontol Electron 4(1):9Google Scholar
  15. Hayward BW, Cedhagen T, Kaminski M, Gross O (2011) World modern foraminifera database. Accessed Dec 2017
  16. Hermelin JOR (1983) Biogeographic patterns of modern Reophax dentaliniformis Brady (arenaceous benthic foraminifera) from the Baltic Sea. J Foraminiferal Res 13(3):155–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. INQUA SEQS (2012) At the edge of the sea: sediments, geomorphology, tectonics and stratigraphy in Quaternary studies Meeting—Fieldtrip Guidebook, p 56Google Scholar
  18. Kaminski MA, Grassle JF, Withlatch RB (1988) Life history and recolonization among agglutinated foraminifera in the Panama Basin. Abh Geol B-A, 229–243Google Scholar
  19. Loeblich R, Tappan H (1987) Foraminiferal genera and their classification. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Murray JW (1991) Ecology and palaeoecology of benthic foraminifera. Longman Scientific & Technical, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Murray JW (2006) Ecology and applications of benthic foraminifera. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Navarro-Barranco C, Guerra-García JM, Sánchez-Tocino L, García-Gómez JC (2012) Soft-bottom crustacean assemblages in Mediterranean marine caves: the cave of Cerro Gordo (Granada, Spain) as case study. Helgoland Mar Res 66:567–576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Parker WC, Arnold AJ (1999) Quantitative methods of data analysis in foraminiferal ecology. In: Sen Gupta BK (ed) Modern Foraminifera. Kluver Publishers, pp 71–90Google Scholar
  24. Pasci S (1997) Tertiary transcurrent tectonics of North-Central Sardinia. B Soc Géol Fr 168:301–312Google Scholar
  25. Polovodova I, Nikulina A, Schönfeld J, Dullo WC (2009) Recent benthic foraminifera in the Flensburg fjord (Western Baltic sea). J Micropalaeontol 28:131–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Romano E, Bergamin L, Ausili A, Pierfranceschi G, Maggi C, Sesta G, Gabellini M (2009) The impact of the Bagnoli industrial site (Naples, Italy) on sea-bottom environment. Chemical and textural features of sediments and the related response of benthic foraminifera. Mar Poll Bull 59:245–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Romano E, Bergamin L, Pierfranceschi G, Provenzani C, Marassich A (2018) The distribution of benthic foraminifera in Bel Torrente submarine cave (Sardinia, Italy) and their environmental significance. Mar Environ Res 133:114–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sanna L, De Waele J (2010) Karst landscape and caves in the Gulf of Orosei (Central-East Sardinia): a scientific and cultural resource. In: Durán JJ, Carrasco F (eds) Cuevas: Patrimonio, Naturaleza, Cultura y Turismo. Asociación de Cuevas Turísticas Españolas, Madrid, pp 351–362Google Scholar
  29. Schafer CT, Wagner FJE, Ferguson C (1975) Occurrence of foraminifera, mollusks and ostracods adjacent to the industrialized shoreline of Canso Strait, Nova Scotia. Water Air Soil Poll 5:79–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Scott DB, Medioli FS, Schafer CT (2001) Monitoring of coastal environments using foraminifera and thecamoebian indicators. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sgarrella F, Montcharmont-Zei M (1993) Benthic foraminifera of the Gulf of Naples (Italy): systematics and autoecology. Boll Soc Paleontol Ital 32:145–264Google Scholar
  32. Shepard FP (1954) Nomenclature based on sand-silt-clay ratio. J Sediment Petrol 24:151–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Trask PD (1936) Relation of salinity to calcium carbonate content of marine sediments. In: Shorter contributions to general geology, US Geological Survey, Professional Paper 186-N, pp 273–299Google Scholar
  34. Van Hengstum P, Scott DB (2011) Ecology of foraminifera and habitat variability in an underwater cave: distinguishing anchialine versus submarine cave environments. J Foraminiferal Res 41(3):201–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Van Hengstum P, Reinhardt EG, Beddows P, Huang RJ, Gabriel JJ (2008) Thecamoebians (Testate Amoebae) and foraminifera from three anchialine cenotes in Mexico: Low salinity (1.5–4.5 psu) faunal transitions. J Foraminiferal Res 38(4):305–317Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ISPRA, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca AmbientaleRomeItaly
  2. 2.Global Underwater ExplorersFloridaUSA

Personalised recommendations