Bioerosion by microbial euendoliths in benthic foraminifera from heavy metal-polluted coastal environments of Portovesme (south-western Sardinia, Italy)
A monitoring survey of the coastal area facing the industrial area of Portoscuso-Portovesme (south-western Sardinia, Italy) revealed intense bioerosional processes. Benthic foraminifera collected at the same depth (about 2 m) but at different distances from the pollution source show extensive microbial infestation, anomalous Mg/Ca molar ratios and high levels of heavy metals in the shell associated with a decrease in foraminifera richness, population density and biodiversity with the presence of morphologically abnormal specimens. We found that carbonate dissolution induced by euendoliths is selective, depending on the Mg content and morpho-structural types of foraminiferal taxa. This study provides evidences for a connection between heavy metal dispersion, decrease in pH of the sea-water and bioerosional processes on foraminifera.