Planktic foraminiferal changes in the western Mediterranean Anthropocene

Alessandro Incarbona, Jordi Garcia-Orellana, Michael Grelaud, Ralf Schiebel, Griselda Anglada-Ortiz, Sven Pallacks, Belen Martrat, P. Graham Mortyn, Patrizia Ziveri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The increase in anthropogenic induced warming over the last two centuries is impacting marine environment. Planktic foraminifera are a globally distributed calcifying marine zooplankton responding sensitively to changes in sea surface temperatures and interacting with the food web structure. Here, we study two high resolution multicore records from two western Mediterranean Sea regions (Alboran and Balearic basins), areas highly affected by both natural climate change and anthropogenic warming. Cores cover the time interval from the Medieval Climate Anomaly to present. Reconstructed sea surface temperatures are in good agreement with other results, tracing temperature changes through the Common Era (CE) and show a clear warming emergence at about 1850 CE. Both cores show opposite abundance fluctuations of planktic foraminiferal species (Globigerina bulloides, Globorotalia inflata and Globorotalia truncatulinoides), a common group of marine calcifying zooplankton. The relative abundance changes of Globorotalia truncatulinoides plus Globorotalia inflata describe the intensity of deep winter mixing in the Balearic basin. In the Alboran Sea, Globigerina bulloides and Globorotalia inflata instead respond to local upwelling dynamics. In the pre-industrial era, changes in planktic foraminiferal productivity and species composition can be explained mainly by the natural variability of the North Atlantic Oscillation, and, to a lesser extent, by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. In the industrial era, starting from about 1800 CE, this variability is affected by anthropogenic surface warming, leading to enhanced vertical stratification of the upper water column, and resulting in a decrease of surface productivity at both sites. We found that natural planktic foraminiferal population dynamics in the western Mediterranean is already altered by enhanced anthropogenic impact in the industrial era, suggesting that in this region natural cycles are being overprinted by human influences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Oceanography


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