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What have natural and human changes wrought on the foraminifera of San Francisco Bay late Quaternary estuaries?

  • Amy E. Lesen (a1) and Jere H. Lipps (a2)

In this study we compare the foraminifera of modern South San Francisco Bay with fossils from sediments of a previous estuary at 125 ka to provide a basis for interpreting the impact of natural and human change on the benthic ecosystem. All the species found in the Pleistocene sediments of this study are estuarine and/or shallow-water species occurring commonly in San Francisco Bay today, except for the introduced foraminifer Trochammina hadai, a native of Japan that was not found in samples taken in San Francisco Bay before 1983. The biodiversity and species composition of the fossil and modern assemblages before the introduction of T. hadai are nearly identical, suggesting that the environmental and physical changes in the 125,000-year-old and modern estuaries have not had a significant effect on the meiofauna of the Bay. In contrast, modern anthropogenic change in the form of species introductions has impacted the modern foraminiferal assemblage: T. hadai began to dominate the modern assemblage a decade after its introduction. Similar to the recorded impacts of introductions of marine metazoan invertebrate species, the dominance of T. hadai changed species proportions in the post-1980s foraminiferal assemblage, however no known extinctions in the native foraminiferal fauna occurred.

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Corresponding author. E-mail address: (A.E. Lesen).
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