Abstract

The objectives of this study were to observe foraminiferal colonization patterns and behavior in shrimp ponds in New Caledonia during a shrimp-growing (farming) cycle. Weekly collecting at 10 stations in 8 shrimp ponds yielded a total of 170 samples accompanied by environmental data. Seawater pumped from the nearby ocean filled the ponds at the beginning of the growth cycle and its daily renewal maintained salinity at 32–39, and supplied the ponds with influxes of smaller, mostly juvenile, foraminifera. A few days after initial filling, the pioneering species Ammonia tepida and Quinqueloculina seminula appeared, with A. tepida dominant. Their high reproduction rates increased both living and dead assemblage densities during the first 10 weeks. Populations of these two species then stabilized with higher oxygen demand (drop of redox) and consumption of living foraminifera by shrimp. Only a few colonizers subsequently appeared, which was attributed to the isolation of the pond, despite the high rate of water renewal. Only one pond had notably higher species richness, but it could not be distinguished from the others by its physicochemical parameters. The species that appeared in ponds initially barren of foraminifera also survived where there was water seepage between growing cycles, suggesting that the assemblages had already reached equilibrium with the environment. Despite the number of environmental parameters measured, only oxygen and reactive organic matter correlated with the microfauna on a weekly timescale. We assume that other parameters do not significantly affect foraminifera until they reach critical threshold. Consistent with previous studies, A. tepida was the species most tolerant of organic influx, but its relative abundance dropped once the organic matter flocculated and settled, leading to disoxic conditions in the sediment. Conversely, Q. seminula was able to climb through the floc and reach the oxygenated layer, where its relative abundance increased.

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