Distribution patterns of Recent pteropods in surface sediments of the western continental shelf of India
Keywords: Recent Pteropods, Arabian Sea, Indian Shelf, spatial distribution, dissolution
Abstract. This paper is the first contribution to the knowledge of pteropods in surficial sediments of the entire western continental shelf of India. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses of pteropod assemblages were carried out on 50 coarse fractions (>125 μm) of topmost portions of grab samples recovered along 12 transects covering the inner shelf to the upper slope (30–200 m water depths). The distribution of eight significant species was mapped. The resultant maps were correlated with the bathymetric, hydrographic and aragonite preservation conditions in the investigated area. This study reveals a bathymetric control over the distribution of Limacina inflata, Creseis acicula and Creseis chierchiae across the shelf. Furthermore, a marked difference in vertical salinity gradient from south to north along the shelf appears to have a profound influence on the abundance of these species. The pteropod shells in sediments of the northern offshore region with anoxic bottom conditions are generally well preserved, unlike the southern region, where oxygen concentration of the bottom water is relatively high enough to cause dissolution or even elimination of many shells of the most susceptible pteropods like C. acicula and C. chierchiae. The variation in the intensity of the oxygen minimum zone along the western continental shelf of India has significant influence upon the distribution pattern of Clio convexa.