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Quantitative analysis of Oligocene assemblages in cool-water carbonates suggests a two-tiered response by benthic, neritic foraminiferal faunas to a succession of glacioeustatic fluctuations. One response appears at lower-frequency or second-order cycles and is marked by more substantial, nonreversible, taxic change at the Eocene–Oligocene boundary, at the Rupelian–Chattian (Early–Late Oligocene) boundary, and during a Late Oligocene transgressive phase. These faunal changes were responses to climatic changes forced by glaciations signaled by oceanic oxygen-isotope maxima. The second response is seen in fluctuations in the abundances of benthic neritic taxa. Rapid changes in infaunal-to-epifaunal ratios appear to chronicle reversible “short-term” local paleoenvironmental shifts forced by third-order cycles. Sequence stratigraphic packages and bounding surfaces are easier to decipher in sequences characteristic of the warmer and more sluggish Priabonian ocean than in the cooler and better-ventilated Rupelian ocean. The major (second-order) physical event at the Rupelian–Chattian boundary is recorded faunally but shows a relatively muted impact on the regional succession of neritic foraminifera compared to the sequence boundary coinciding with glaciation Oi1 in the very earliest Oligocene. We interpret, from graphic correlation and cluster analysis, that patterns of faunal change reflect endemism that developed on a broad neritic zone with wide variation in intensity of oceanic influence.

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