Thermal stress reduces carbonate production of benthic foraminifera and changes the material properties of their shells

Danna Titelboim*, Oliver T Lord, Daniela N Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


In shallow marine environments, benthic foraminifera are important foundation species and carbonate producers. Understanding their response to future climate is often drawn from their acclimation potential in short laboratory experiments, thereby limiting our understanding of migration, species replacement and adaptive potential. To overcome this challenge, we examine two species of benthic foraminifera from a thermally polluted field site mimicking future warming. This site and a control station cover 13°C-36°C causing both warm and cold stress to the local species. Computer Tomography reveals that under heat stress, even with acclimation, Lachlanella significantly reduced its shell volume. In contrast, Pararotalia calcariformata did not reduce its shell volume but reduced the relative amount of calcite with respect to shell volume and changed its reproduction cycle from twice to once per year.
Raman spectroscopy indicates that thermal conditions alter the chemical composition of the calcite shells of both species. Calcification during thermal stress creates alterations in the crystal structure that are unexpectedly more prominent under cold stress than warm stress indicating warming might positively affect the shell’s protective function. Supported by previous laboratory experiments and observations from the geological record, our results provide new perspective to the effect of warming on benthic foraminifera.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3202–3211
Number of pages10
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2021


  • Benthic foraminifera
  • Calcification
  • Dwarfism
  • Field experiment
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Thermal stress
  • Warming


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