Planktic foraminifera

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Extant Planktic Foraminifera and the Physical Environment in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans - An Atlas based on CLIMAP and Levitus (1982) Data

What are planktic foraminifera?

Planktic foraminifera are a group of sand-sized marine organisms, relatives of the single-celled amoebians. They build shells that can be used by paleontologists for age determinations and reconstructions of past environments in the ocean.

Planktic foraminifera live as plankton and apply various strategies for survival. Some are hunters and prey on other planktic animals (zooplankton). Others graze on the various algae that are found in the oceanic waters. They have complicated life cycles and migrate in the water column. Some may even descend to the sea bottom for some time where they crawl and build holes.

It seems much of the ecology of planktic foraminifera is linked to aggregates of organic material (mostly bacteria, slime, algae). This marine snow drifts in the water and provides an important food source for many planktic organisms.