Late Paleocene planktic foraminifera exhibit strong positive correlations between carbon isotopic values and test mass, but negative correlations between oxygen isotopic values and test mass. Based on analogy with modern taxa, these trends are probably ecotypic and may or may not apply to an ontogenetic series. Among Acarinina and Morozovella species, the magnitude and direction of these trends resemble those of modern planktic foraminifera with dinoflagellate photosymbionts. This is consistent with current models of photosymbiosis and calcification in planktic foraminifera and suggests that Acarinina and Morozovella relied heavily on photosymbionts for nutrition.
Acarinina and Morozovella species resemble modern, strongly photosymbiotic taxa in their association with low and mid latitude nearsurface water masses. However, their test morphologies differ greatly from those of extant taxa that bear obligate photosymbionts. Earliest Paleocene taxa that exhibit a similar paleohabitat association and similar size-related isotopic trends are characterized by still different test morphologies. These comparisons suggest that (1) throughout geologic time, strong reliance on photosymbiont activity has been closely linked to habitat, but not to test morphology; (2) photosymbiosis has been a common and convergently evolved strategy of planktic foraminifera over geologic time, and (3) modern relationships between planktic foraminiferal test morphology and photosymbiont dependence are largely an artifact of geologically recent phylogenetic relationships and shared ecologic strategies.
Intersite comparison suggests that the stable isotopic signals of narrowly constrained size fractions of a late Paleocene Acarinina or Morozovella species can be used to reconstruct the magnitude and direction of relative variation in equilibrium stable isotopic values throughout its geographic and temporal range. This is supported by analogy with extant photosymbiotic taxa. However, since photosynthetic depletion of 12C leaves 13C-enriched HCO3-for calcification, the carbon isotopic values of Acarinina and Morozovella tests may have been consistently greater than paleoseawater values. Failure to account for this effect could lead to overestimation of late Paleocene marine productivity.