Articles | Volume 31, issue 1
01 Feb 2012
 | 01 Feb 2012

History and development of methods in Recent benthic foraminiferal studies

Joachim Schönfeld

Keywords: methods, benthic foraminifera, environmental indicators, sampling, laboratory procedures

Abstract. Benthic foraminifera have proven to be suitable for environmental monitoring because of their high levels of adaptation, small size and high abundance in Recent sediments and the fossil record. Foraminifera are scarcely used in monitoring studies because a standardization of methods has not been achieved to date. When particular methods were introduced and why they were applied is often hidden in the literature. This paper reviews the development of field and laboratory methods, their constraints and consequences for faunal and data analyses. Multiple and box corers and some grab samplers retrieve reliable surface sediment samples provided the bow wave is minimized as the sampler approaches the sea floor. Most disturbances are created during handling of the unit on deck and subsampling. Ethanol for preservation, rose Bengal as vital stain and a mesh size of 63 µm to wash foraminiferal samples are used extensively. Faunal analyses of a larger size fraction are occasionally necessary. The fractions >125 µm and >150 µm are often preferentially chosen even though this may artificially reduce specimen numbers and faunal diversity. Generally, a much lower level of common practice prevails in sample preparation and faunal analyses than in sampling or laboratory procedures. Increasing preference has been given to quantitative methods and the acquisition of independently revisable census data during recent decades.