Settling velocity is a key hydrodynamic parameter to understand the transport behavior of benthic foraminiferal tests. Both size and density are fundamental in predicting settling velocity, but their relative importance is unclear. We used specimens of four benthic foraminiferal species from a carbonate-sand sample collected from Xisha Qundao, South China Sea, to investigate this question. Measurements on foraminiferal test size, shape, and density were combined with settling velocity observations using a laboratory settling tube. In addition, a micro-Computed Tomography (CT) Scanner was used to extract the internal-structure patterns of the tests of four representative specimens. Our study revealed that both size and density are important in affecting settling velocity, but the relative importance is species-specific. Size is more important than density for Amphistegina lobifera and Heterostegina depressa; these two factors are equally important for Peneroplis pertusus, but the settling velocity of Sorites orbiculus is also considerably controlled by their unique structure, besides size and density. This species-specific pattern was further compared with test development to reveal the associated biological mechanisms. As a result, a novel parameter, DT (density*TND2), is proposed as a better variable for predicting the species-specific settling behaviors.

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