Living (stained) benthic foraminiferal faunas were analyzed in 51 surficial sediment samples taken from the northern Gulf of Cadiz continental shelf between the mouths of the Guadiana and Guadalquivir rivers. The distribution and abundance of 26 species with relative abundance >5% were related to water depth, sediment type, river discharge, water temperature, salinity, turbidity, and primary productivity. Hierarchical classification using R- and Q-mode cluster analyses, and individual distributions, allowed these taxa to be categorized into four general groups. Group 1 is represented by Bolivina ordinaria and Hopkinsina atlantica. These species are linked to river discharge, and are associated with muddy sediments. They are considered the most opportunistic species in the assemblage, and are associated with the limits of productivity. Group 2, contains Ammonia beccarii, Eggerelloides scaber, Elphidium gerthi, Quinqueloculina laevigata, and Q. stelligera, and is characteristic of shallow water depths. Its species are associated with different sediment types and their distribution is influenced by river discharge. Group 3 is dominated by Bulimina aculeata, B. elongata, Elphidium excavatum, E. cuvillieri, Epistominella vitrea, and Rectuvigerina phlegeri. These species display the highest abundances between 30–100 m water depths. They prevail in muds associated with weak hydrodynamics, low oxygenation, and high organic matter. Group 4 includes species that are more abundant in deep stations and is divided into two subgroups. Subgroup 4A includes Bolivina catanensis, B. italica, B. striatula, Cassidulina laevigata, Stainforthia sp., Nouria polymorphinoides, and Nouria sp., with higher abundances in one or two samples. Subgroup 4B, with Brizalina dilatata, B. spathulata, Bulimina marginata, Nonionella iridea, N. stella, and N. turgida, has patchy distribution. Higher abundances of Nonionella species off the Guadiana River are related to low temperature and salinity.

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