Taphonomy and modern analogues

These studies aim to explore if the diversity patterns of taphonomically impacted benthic foraminiferal assemblages, where all calcareous taxa are dissolved (i.e., only agglutinated forms left), mimic the diversity patterns of the whole, original assemblages.

Furthermore, to synthesise the distribution of agglutinated foraminifera in environments ranging from intertidal, through shelf seas, to deep sea for the NE Atlantic margin, to establish patterns of species diversity and distribution of taxa and morphogroups with respect to major environments.

About the project

Palaeoecological interpretations of fossil assemblages depend on comparison with modern analogues. However, taphonomic alterations of the original assemblages (e.g., dissolution of calcareous tests) may hamper interpretations. It is unlikely that all fossil agglutinated assemblages come from the limited range of environments were modern analogues occur. A central theme in the present research is to fill the no-analogue gap in modern data by exploring the possibility that some fossil assemblages are secondary, derived from original assemblages that included calcareous forms. This, in turn, should shed light on discrepancies induced by evolution and changing climate and palaeogeography. To approach these problems we simulate the natural processes of carbonate dissolution by experimentally dissolving original dead assemblages (ODAs) to obtain residual acid-treated assemblages (ATAs).

This has provided baseline data on the environmental and geographic distribution of species diversity and of individual species and assemblages from a wide range of modern environments in NW European seas. Results show that ATAs retain a considerable amount of ecological information. Recently, new data from >400 samples from marsh to deep sea are used to refine the morphogroup model proposed by Jones and Charnock in 1985 by providing the range of abundance of each morphogroup in each environment.


This research is primarily based on long-term collaboration with Prof. J. W. Murray, SOES, United Kingdom.

Published Feb. 28, 2011 9:23 AM - Last modified Mar. 25, 2022 3:40 PM


Elisabeth Alve, Professor