Oxygen respiration rates of benthic foraminifera as measured with oxygen microsensors

Research areas:
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
108 - 114
Oxygen respiration rates of benthic foraminifera are still badly known, mainly because they are difficult to measure. Oxygen respiration rates of seventeen species of benthic foraminifera were measured using microelectrodes and calculated on the basis of the oxygen fluxes measured in the vicinity of the foraminiferal specimens. The results show a wide range of oxygen respiration rates for the different species (from 0.09 to 5.27 nl cell-1 h-1) and a clear correlation with foraminiferal biovolume showed by the power law relationship: R = 3.98 10-3 BioVol0.88 where the oxygen respiration rate (R) is expressed in nl O2 h-1 and in μm3 biovolume (BioVol) (n = 44, R2 = 0.72, F = 114, p < 0.0001). The results expressed per biovolume unit (1.82 to 15.7 nl O2 10-8 μm-3 h-1) allow us to compare our data with the previous published data showing similar ranges. A comparison with available data for other microbenthos groups (nematodes, copepods, ostracods, ciliates and flagellates) suggests that benthic foraminifera have a lower oxygen respiration rates per unit biovolume. The total contribution of benthic foraminifera to the aerobic mineralisation of organic matter is estimated for the studied areas. The results suggest that benthic foraminifera play only a minor role (0.5 to 2.5\%) in continental shelf environments, which strongly contrasts with their strong contribution to anaerobic organic matter mineralisation, by denitrification, in the same areas.