Table of Contents
ISRN Oceanography
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 508184, 15 pages
Review Article

Planktonic Foraminifera as Oceanographic Proxies: Comparison of Biogeographic Classifications Using Some Southwest Pacific Core-Top Faunas

GNS Science, 1 Fairway Drive, Lower Hutt 5010, New Zealand

Received 29 April 2013; Accepted 17 June 2013

Academic Editors: M. Elskens and M. T. Maldonado

Copyright © 2013 G. H. Scott. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The distribution of planktonic foraminifera, as free-floating protists, is largely controlled by hydrography. Their death assemblages in surficial sediments provide proxy data on upper water mass properties for paleoceanography. Techniques for mapping faunal distributions for this purpose are compared in a study of 35 core-top samples that span the Subtropical Front in the Southwest Pacific. Faunas are analyzed by taxon composition, order of dominant taxa, and abundance. Taxon composition (presence-absence data) and dominant taxa (ordinal data) recognize groups of sites that approximate major water mass distributions (cool subtropical water, subantarctic water) and clearly define the location of the Subtropical Front. Quantitative data (relative abundances) more closely reflect the success of taxa in upper water mass niches. This information resolves groups of sites that reflect differences in intrawater mass hydrography. Comparisons suggest that abundance data should provide much better oceanographic resolution globally than the widely used ordinal biogeographic classification that identifies only Tropical, Subtropical Transitional, Subpolar and Polar provinces. As the data are strongly structured by variance in the abundance of Globigerina bulloides, Globorotalia inflata, Neogloboquadrina incompta, and Neogloboquadrina pachyderma, comparable classifications result from most clustering strategies. Principal coordinates analysis best represents the configuration of sites in two dimensions.