This study explored the response to salinity of intertidal foraminiferal assemblages from the Yellow Sea by culturing them for 100 days at six constant salinity levels (17, 22, 27, 32, 37, and 42 psu) in laboratory microcosms with four replicates each. A total of 7,471 live (stained) foraminiferal specimens were obtained and analyzed. The diversity parameters of foraminiferal assemblages (species richness, Margalef index, Shannon-Wiener index, and Fisher's alpha) declined significantly when the salinity was increased or decreased from the field value, but foraminiferal abundance was highly resistant to salinity. In addition, salinity exerted different effects on foraminifera from different orders. Specifically, the proportion of species from Order Miliolida significantly increased whereas that of species from Order Rotaliida decreased with increasing salinity. High salinity-tolerant species Ammonia aomoriensis, Cribrononion gnythosuturatum, Ammonia tepida, and Quinqueloculina seminula could fill unoccupied ecological niches when the proportion of salinity-sensitive species has declined. Furthermore, our morphometric results showed that foraminiferal test size was significantly negatively correlated with salinity, and numerous abnormal specimens appeared in foraminiferal assemblages when salinity deviated from the field value. Our study revealed that intertidal foraminiferal assemblages had high adaptability at different salinities because of the existence of high salinity-tolerant dominant species. In addition, salinity variation can significantly alter foraminiferal morphology in test size and abnormality.

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