Culture experiments were carried out with the planktonic foraminifer Orbulina universa under high and low light levels in order to determine the influence of symbiont photosynthetic activity on the boron isotopic composition of shell calcite. Under low light (reduced photosynthetic rates) the boron isotopic composition of the tests is 1.5 per mil lower compared to shells grown under high light (elevated photosynthetic rates). In terms of inferred pH, the lower boron isotope values correspond to a reduction in pH of approximately 0.2 units. The boron isotopic composition of Orbulina universa from plankton tows is similar to shells grown under low light conditions in the laboratory. These data are consistent with reduced symbiont concentrations in recently secreted shells. In addition to laboratory and field grown O. universa, we present the first data for a symbiont-barren foraminifer, Globigerina bulloides. Data obtained for G. bulloides fall ~1.4 per mil below the field grown O. universa. Although the plankton tow results are preliminary, they support the hypothesis that respiration and photosynthesis are the key physiological parameters responsible for species-specific vital effects.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > MAR2-Palaeo Climate Mechanisms and Variability