Response of Recent Benthic Foraminiferal Assemblages to Contrasting Environments in Baffin Bay and the Northern Labrador Sea, Northwest Atlantic


  • Claudia Schröder-Adams
  • Deanne Van Rooyen



benthic foraminifera, Baffin Bay, Labrador Sea, carbonate dissolution, faunal patchiness


Modern deep-water benthic foraminiferal assemblages in Baffin Bay and the northern Labrador Sea, Western North Atlantic, were sampled from box cores and analyzed to determine assemblage composition. The two marine basins are separated by the shallow waters of Davis Strait. Assemblages of Baffin Bay contained only agglutinated foraminifera, whereas samples from the Labrador Sea contained both calcareous and agglutinated species, which resulted in significantly higher species richness. The absence of benthic calcareous taxa in Baffin Bay is attributed to cold, saline, CO2-rich bottom waters related to the Baffin Bay Bottom Water and the Baffin Bay Atlantic Water. Modern foraminiferal assemblage distribution supports the model of increased organic flux under seasonal open-water conditions that feed a rich agglutinated assemblage, but lead to oxidation of organic matter and increased carbonate dissolution. Deep-water sediments contain ice-rafted coarse-grained components and biogenic elements such as sponge spicules that are heavily used by numerous agglutinated species for test construction. Robust, tubular suspension feeders occupy regions under the influence of bottom currents that deliver nutrients. Although disturbances of the sediment-water interface cannot be excluded with sampled box cores, small-scale patchiness can be confirmed by varying abundances of infaunal taxa. Absolute counts of specimens in subsamples vary signif­icantly, whereas species evenness among subsamples is less variable. These findings call for caution when interpreting lateral faunal changes on the basis of small core samples.