Coupled calcium and inorganic carbon uptake suggested by magnesium and sulfur incorporation in foraminiferal calcite
Shell chemistry of foraminiferal carbonate proves to be useful in reconstructing past ocean conditions. A new addition to the proxy toolbox is the ratio of sulfur (S) to calcium (Ca) in foraminiferal shells, reflecting the ratio of SO42- to CO32- in seawater. When comparing species, the amount of SO42- incorporated, and therefore the S∕Ca of the shell, increases with increasing magnesium (Mg) content. The uptake of SO42- in foraminiferal calcite is likely connected to carbon uptake, while the incorporation of Mg is more likely related to Ca uptake since this element substitutes for Ca in the crystal lattice. The relation between S and Mg incorporation in foraminiferal calcite therefore offers the opportunity to investigate the timing of processes involved in Ca and carbon uptake. To understand how foraminiferal S∕Ca is related to Mg∕Ca, we analyzed the concentration and within-shell distribution of S∕Ca of three benthic species with different shell chemistry: Ammonia tepida, Bulimina marginata and Amphistegina lessonii. Furthermore, we investigated the link between Mg∕Ca and S∕Ca across species and the potential influence of temperature on foraminiferal S∕Ca. We observed that S∕Ca is positively correlated with Mg∕Ca on a microscale within specimens, as well as between and within species. In contrast, when shell Mg∕Ca increases with temperature, foraminiferal S∕Ca values remain similar. We evaluate our findings in the light of previously proposed biomineralization models and abiological processes involved during calcite precipitation. Although all kinds of processes, including crystal lattice distortion and element speciation at the site of calcification, may contribute to changes in either the amount of S or Mg that is ultimately incorporated in foraminiferal calcite, these processes do not explain the covariation between Mg∕Ca and S∕Ca values within specimens and between species. We observe that groups of foraminifera with different calcification pathways, e.g., hyaline versus porcelaneous species, show characteristic values for S∕Ca and Mg∕Ca, which might be linked to a different calcium and carbon uptake mechanism in porcelaneous and hyaline foraminifera. Whereas Mg incorporation might be controlled by Ca dilution at the site of calcification due to Ca pumping, S is linked to carbonate ion concentration via proton pumping. The fact that we observe a covariation of S and Mg within specimens and between species suggests that proton pumping and Ca pumping are intrinsically coupled across multiple scales.