Silicoflagellate abundance, vertical distribution and morphology were studied during spring (March 2014) at three sampling stations locatedin the Northeast Aegean Sea adjacent to the Dardanelles Strait and characterized by a variable influx of cold, low-salinity Black Sea water.The silicoflagellate assemblage was dominated by Dictyocha stapedia and Stephanocha speculum with minor contribution of D. aculeata andOctactis pulchra. While specimens of D. stapedia were represented by the typical morphologies described in other areas of the Mediterranean Sea,populations of S. speculum displayed peculiar characters: they were large, predominantly 7-sided, with a small apical ring as well as apical ringspines, concave basal ring sides and non-rotated apical structure. Some of these features have been described for S. speculum at high latitudes, butthe combined characters make these specimens slightly different from the high latitude populations. Similar morphologies have been observed inthe western Black Sea, thus we can infer that the peculiar specimens detected in the Northeast Aegean are associated with the influx of Black Seawater masses.
Benthic foraminiferal composition assemblages and their temporal changes, ecological indices and foraminiferal densities are used to compare three coastal environments with different physicogeographical features in the Aegean Sea (coastal environment of Avdira–Vistonikos Gulf and Kitros–Thermaikos Gulf and open lagoonal environment of Vravron–South Evoikos Gulf). Three main foraminiferal assemblages have been recognized: a) “Assemblage A”; high degree of similarity between living and dead foraminiferal species, dominated byAmmonia beccarii, Elphidium spp. and relatively abundant and diverse miliolids, b) “Assemblage B1”; intermediate degree of similarity between live and dead assemblages, characterized by highly-abundant and well-diversified foraminiferal assemblages including the algal symbiont bearing Peneroplis pertusus together withAmmonia tepida and several small epiphytic rotaliids and miliolids, and c) “Assemblage B2”; absence of living individuals, strongly dominated by the opportunistic species A. tepida. Our results suggest a good comparison between living and dead assemblages from different coastal environments in the Aegean Sea, however the prevailing environmental conditions (vegetation cover, hydrodynamics, fresh water influx) have a strong impact on the taphonomic processes.
We provide new evidence on sea surface temperature (SST) variations and paleoceanographic/paleoenvironmental changes over the past 1500 years for the north Aegean Sea (NE Mediterranean). The reconstructions are based on multiproxy analyses, obtained from the high resolution (decadal to multi-decadal) marine record M2 retrieved from the Athos basin. Reconstructed SSTs show an increase from ca. 850 to 950 AD and from ca. 1100 to 1300 AD. A cooling phase of almost 1.5 °C is observed from ca. 1600 AD to 1700 AD. This seems to have been the starting point of a continuous SST warming trend until the end of the reconstructed period, interrupted by two prominent cooling events at 1832 ± 15 AD and 1995 ± 1 AD. Application of an adaptive Kernel smoothing suggests that the current warming in the reconstructed SSTs of the north Aegean might be unprecedented in the context of the past 1500 years. Internal variability in atmospheric/oceanic circulations systems as well as external forcing as solar radiation and volcanic activity could have affected temperature variations in the north Aegean Sea over the past 1500 years. The marked temperature drop of approximately ∼2 °C at 1832 ± 15 yr AD could be related to the 1809 ΑD ‘unknown’ and the 1815 AD Tambora volcanic eruptions. Paleoenvironmental proxy-indices of the M2 record show enhanced riverine/continental inputs in the northern Aegean after ca. 1450 AD.The paleoclimatic evidence derived from the M2 record is combined with a socio-environmental study of the history of the north Aegean region. We show that the cultivation of temperature-sensitive crops, i.e. walnut, vine and olive, co-occurred with stable and warmer temperatures, while its end coincided with a significant episode of cooler temperatures. Periods of agricultural growth in Macedonia coincide with periods of warmer and more stable SSTs, but further exploration is required in order to identify the causal links behind the observed phenomena. The Black Death likely caused major changes in agricultural activity in the north Aegean region, as reflected in the pollen data from land sites of Macedonia and the M2 proxy-reconstructions. Finally, we conclude that the early modern peaks in mountain vegetation in the Rhodope and Macedonia highlands, visible also in the M2 record, were very likely climate-driven.
Combined micropaleontological and geochemical analyses of the high-sedimentation gravity core M-4G provided new centennial-scale paleoceanographic data for sapropel S1 deposition in the NE Aegean Sea during the Holocene Climatic Optimum. Sapropel layer S1a (10.2–8.0 ka) was deposited in dysoxic to oxic bottom waters characterized by a high abundance of benthic foraminiferal species tolerating surface sediment and/or pore water oxygen depletion (e.g.,Chilostomella mediterranensis, Globobulimina affinis), and the presence of Uvigerina mediterranea, which thrives in oxic mesotrophic-eutrophic environments. Preservation of organic matter (OM) is inferred based on high organic carbon as well as loliolide and isololiolide contents, while the biomarker record and the abundances of eutrophic planktonic foraminifera document enhanced productivity. High inputs of terrigenous OM are attributed to north Aegean borderland riverine inputs. Both alkenone-based sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and δO18 G. bulloides records indicate cooling at 8.2 ka (S1a) and ~7.8 ka (S1 interruption). Sapropelic layer S1b (7.7–6.4 ka) is characterized by rather oxic conditions; abundances of foraminiferal species tolerant to oxygen depletion are very low compared with the U. mediterranea rise. Strongly fluctuating SSTs demonstrate repeated cooling and associated dense water formation, with a major event at 7.4 ka followed by cold spells at 7.0, 6.8, and 6.5 ka. The prominent rise of the carbon preference index within the S1b layer indicates the delivery of less degraded terrestrial OM. The increase of algal biomarkers, labile OM-feeding foraminifera and eutrophic planktonic species pinpoints an enhanced in situ marine productivity, promoted by more efficient vertical convection due to repeated cold events. The associated contributions of labile marine OM along with fresher terrestrial OM inputs after ~7.7 ka imply sources alternative/additional to the north Aegean riverine borderland sources for the influx of organic matter in the south Limnos Basin, plausibly related to the inflow of highly productive Marmara/Black Sea waters.
Saronikos Gulf, including the industrial zone of Elefsis Bay and the Port of Piraeus, is one of the most anthropogenically impacted coastal regions of Greece. Distinct assemblages of benthic foraminifers in sediment samples, collected from this gulf in February 2012, defined three zones that reflect abiotic parameters of the sediments (e.g., organic carbon, metal content). A low-diversity assemblage, dominated by stress-tolerantAmmonia tepida and Bulimina spp., was characteristic of samples from Elefsis Bay. Samples from the western and central part of Saronikos Gulf were the most variable with respect to both abiotic parameters and the foraminiferal assemblage, characterized by a mix of stress-tolerant and more sensitive taxa, especially Bolivina spp. andNonion fabum. Samples from the coast of Salamis and at the eastern sector of the gulf were characterized by a diverse assemblage that included Peneroplis pertusus, miliolids, and a variety of small, epiphytic rotaliid taxa. A new biotic index, the Foram Stress Index (FSI), is based on the relative percentages of two ecological groups of benthic foraminiferal species, grouped according to their tolerance/sensitivity to organic matter enrichment and weighted proportionately to obtain a formula to define five ecological-status classes. The FSI produced three rankings for these samples (Poor, Moderate and Good), that strongly correlate with the macroinvertebrate-classification tool known as the BENTIX Index. The FSI provides a new tool to assess sediment or substrata quality based upon the benthic foraminiferal assemblages, which are a significant component of living meiobenthic communities that are generally not considered in most biotic benthic indices.
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (+30) 210-7274920 Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment Panepistimiopolis Zografou Athens, 15784 email@example.com