Molluscan and Foraminiferan Paleoecological Reconstructions of Extreme Post-Glacial Seafloor Environments of the California Borderland

Monday, 15 December 2014
Sarah E Moffitt1,2, Tessa M Hill1,2, Kristy Kroeker1,3, Peter D Roopnarine4 and James Kennett5, (1)University of California Davis, Davis, CA, United States, (2)Bodega Marine Lab, Sebastopol, CA, United States, (3)University of California Santa Cruz, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Santa Cruz, CA, United States, (4)California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA, United States, (5)Univ of California, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
We have reconstructed paleoecological and climatic change in a Late Quaternary (16.1-3.4 ka) sediment core from the California margin (418 meters below sea level) of Santa Barbara Basin using quantitative analyses of Molluscan and Foraminiferan microfossils. This archive represents the first record of marine metazoan community ecology, and a comparison to a well-established biotic proxy (Foraminifera), through the climatic and oceanographic events of the most recent deglaciation. The high-resolution seafloor archive reveals strong coupling between orbital and millennial climatic episodes and the structure of shallow ocean ecosystems. Changes in the density and diversity of molluscs and foraminifera exhibit clear associations with climatic events that mark the deglacial episode, including rapid expansions and contractions of the Oxygen Minimum Zone and development of chemosynthetic bacterial mat communities. Molluscans occur discontinuously in only 28% of the sediment sequence, whereas foraminifera occur throughout. Multivariate statistical analyses of the community ecology assist with the interpretations of the multi-species paleoecological data and of processes that caused the variability. A surprising dominance of molluscan extremophiles (sulfidic Astrys permodesta and hypoxic Lucinoma aequizonatum) during cool, well oxygenated intervals reveals how such forms can thrive during inferred brief ephemeral extreme events. Hydrographic variability and bottom water flow, as well as the growth of benthic bacterial communities, determine where such extremophile communities dominate.