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Organic-walled dinoflagellate cysts are generally abundant and well preserved in the sediments of the Marmara Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea and Aral Sea making them an attractive proxy to study changes in sea-surface conditions. The number of studies involving dinoflagellate cysts from sediments of these seas has proliferated over the past decade and this paper aims to present an introduction to research in this region. The environments, both at present and during the Holocene, are unique in character and represent a number of challenges to researchers. Many of the dinoflagellate cysts recorded in the region are endemic, exhibit large morphological variation and have ecological niches that are poorly constrained. Those that are relatively well known are usually cosmopolitan, euryhaline species such as Lingulodinium machaerophorum, making precise environmental reconstruction difficult. Yet despite these challenges, dinoflagellate cysts have played an important role in understanding Holocene sea-surface conditions, notably salinities, of these seas.

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