The distribution and abundance of live (rose Bengal stained) and dead, shallow infaunal (0–1 cm depth) and deep infaunal (>1 cm depth) benthic foraminifera have been documented at three locations representing different salinity settings on the fringing marshes along the Pamlico Sound and Currituck Sound coasts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Two cores taken at each site represent the lower and higher marsh.
Twenty-two taxa were recorded as live. Of these, eight taxa were found only at shallow infaunal depths; the other 14 taxa occur at deep infaunal depths in one or more cores. Only Jadammina macrescens and Tiphotrocha comprimata were recorded as living in all six cores. The distributions of the other taxa were restricted by combinations of infaunal depth, salinity regime and location on the marsh.
The tests of infaunal foraminifera were generally more likely to be preserved in the lower marsh than the higher marsh at low- and intermediate-salinity sites. The opposite pattern was evident at the high-salinity site but this may be due to the low numbers of deep infaunal specimens recovered. Arenoparrella mexicana, Haplophragmoides wilberti, Jadammina macrescens and Trochammina inflata are the most resistant taxa, whereas Miliammina fusca is the species whose tests are most likely to be lost to post-mortem degradation. In five of the six cores, foraminiferal assemblages and populations do not differ significantly with depth which suggests that the foraminifera of the 0–1 cm depth interval provide an adequate model upon which paleoenvironmental (including former sea level) reconstructions can be based.