We described the distributions of foraminifera from ten physiographically distinct salt marshes in the Albemarle–Pamlico estuarine system, North Carolina using 193 surface samples. We defined elevation-dependent ecological zones at individual sites using cluster analysis and detrended correspondence analysis. Additionally, seven principal biozones of salt-marsh foraminifera were identified that have distinctive spatial distributions reflecting a pattern of salinity regimes caused by the current configuration of barrier-island inlets. High salinity sites along the southern Outer Banks are associated with sub-tidal calcareous assemblages, low marshes dominated by Miliammina fusca and high marsh environments defined by Haplophragmoides wilberti, Trochammina inflata and Arenoparrella mexicana. In contrast, lower salinity marshes have Ammobaculites spp. in sub-tidal settings, Miliammina fusca-dominated low marshes and high marsh settings characterized by Jadammina macrescens. Spatial variation of foraminiferal populations and the potential for biozones to migrate in response to changing inlet configuration and salinity, suggests that datasets of modern salt-marsh foraminifera from multiple environments would be appropriate for reconstructing Holocene relative sea level in North Carolina.
Research Track Category: