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Abstract

Among tropical foraminifers a number of families and genera reach large sizes, commonly ranging from 3 mm3 in volume to more than 300 mm3. Many of these are part of lineages that have extensive fossil records and formulation of an ecological framework for the extant representatives may have applicability to related foraminifers in carbonate deposits as old as Cretaceous and by analogy to the extinct late Paleozoic fusulinaceans. Most large, living foraminiferal genera are associated with a symbiotic photosynthetic partner. Some of these photosynthetic partners are zooxanthellae similar to those in tropical, shallow water, hermatypic corals. Most large foraminifers show one or more type of shell adaptation for the effective utilization of their symbionts. In general, large foraminifers are important constituents of coral reef ecological systems and are geographically limited in their distribution to surface water having temperatures greater than 200C, to shallow shelf areas in the upper part of the photic zone, and to normal (35.5 ppt or higher) salinities. Only a few larger genera, such as the alveolinids, are common in the middle part of the photic zone.

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