Encrusting foraminifera from Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas : taphonomy, shelf-to-slope distribution, and behavior
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Foraminifera encrusting empty mollusc shells from experimental arrays were examined to determine whether their taphonomic condition varies across shelf-to-slope environments, whether species distributions differ across shelf-to-slope environments, and how they interact with each other and with other encrusting organisms. Foraminifera were examined from six sites, representing shallow shelf to deep slope environments, off Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas. The taphonomic condition of encrusting foraminifera was found to vary with environment. In particular, the most severe forms of taphonomic damage to foraminiferal tests were observed only on specimens from the shallow shelf. Physical taphonomic degradation (e.g., breakage) of foraminifera was found throughout the environments studied. Biological taphonomic degradation (e.g., borings) was observed only in foraminifera from the shallow shelf and shelf edge. Different species of encrusting foraminifera were found in different environments. Their distributions may have been influenced by factors such as light and temperature differences among the water masses in those environments. Encrusting foraminifera were successful in overgrowing multicellular organisms at the shelf sites. The number of interactions per foraminiferan was higher at the shallow shelf and shelf edge than at slope sites. These results suggest that encrusting foraminifera may be useful as environmental indicators, and are important members of the encrusting community.