Abstract

Modern analog faunal distributions are increasingly being used in fossil foraminiferal studies to provide quantitative estimates of past environmental conditions, requiring an accurate assessment of modern taphonomic assemblages. A fundamental issue with such an approach is the differentiation of live versus dead foraminifera in the modern assemblage. The effectiveness of various biological staining techniques for this purpose has long been debated. In this study, the reliability of the stain rose Bengal, which has been widely used for over 50 years, was compared to that of the modern fluorogenic probe CellTracker Green in identifying live agglutinated salt-marsh foraminifera from two locations on the South Island, New Zealand. Cored samples within these locations yielded low diversity assemblages, dominated by Trochamminita salsa, an important high tidal salt-marsh species in the Southern Hemisphere. Parametric statistical analysis of replicate data shows that there is no significant difference between the ability of the two techniques to discriminate between live and dead foraminifera.

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