Spiculosiphon oceana (Foraminifera) a new bio-indicator of acidic environments related to fluid emissions of the Zannone Hydrothermal Field (central Tyrrhenian Sea)

Mar Environ Res. 2018 May;136:89-98. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2018.02.015. Epub 2018 Feb 22.


The new record of a shallow-water submarine hydrothermal field (<150 m w.d.) in the western Mediterranean Sea (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy) allows us to study CO2 fluid impact on benthic foraminifers. Benthic foraminifers calcification process is sensitive to ocean acidification and to local chemical and physical parameters of seawater and pore water. Thus, foraminifers can record specific environmental conditions related to hydrothermal fluids, but at present their response to such activity is poorly defined. The major outcome of this study is the finding of a very uncommon taxon for the Mediterranean Sea, i.e., the Spiculosiphon oceana, a giant foraminifer agglutinating spicules of sponges. This evidence, along with the strong decrease of calcareous tests in the foraminiferal assemblages associated to hydrothermal activity, provides new insights on the meiofauna living in natural stressed environment. In particular, observations obtained from this study allow us to consider S. oceana a potential tolerant species of high CO2 concentrations (about 2-4 times higher than the normal marine values) and a proxy of acidic environments as well as of recent ocean acidification processes.

Keywords: Acidification; Foraminifera; Hydrothermal activity; Spiculosiphon oceana; Stressed environments; Western Mediterranean Sea.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Foraminifera / chemistry*
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry*
  • Italy
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Seawater / chemistry*