Coccolithophores in surface sediments of the Arabian Sea (TAble 1)
One hundred surface sediment samples of the Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean) were investigated and relative abundances of coccoliths were compared to mean annual gradients of temperature, salinity, chlorophyll, PO4 and mixed layer depth. Total coccolith concentrations ranged from 42*10**6/g sediment in coastal areas to more than 19000*10**6/g sediment in oceanic regions. The general distribution does not seem to be dependent on coccolithophore productivity in surface waters alone, but also on the diluting input of terrigenous material. A total of 27 taxa were identified. The main species dominating the assemblages were Gephyrocapsa oceanica, Emiliania huxleyi and Florisphaera profunda with a combined average abundance of more than 70%. Several species and species groups reflect with their distribution the environmental parameters of the overlying water masses and may be successfully used to improve palaeoclimatic reconstructions, e.g. (a) F. profunda exhibits a high similarity or even positive correlation to the mean annual mixed layer depth, (b) calciosolenids can be described as coastal or shelf species. While temperature and salinity gradients do not seem to be crucial for coccolithophores in this region, the mean mixed layer depth as well as the PO4 concentration (representative for total nutrient availability) may control in part the coccolithophore assemblages. According to the results of a cluster analysis and the distribution pattern of all species, it was possible to differentiate three main coccolithophore assemblages. A G. oceanica dominated assemblage mainly occurs in the northern part of the study area and can be described as 'high nutrient assemblage'. The second assemblage, dominated by F. profunda, may be typical for oligotrophic and stable conditions in open ocean waters. A third assemblage, with high amounts of 'coastal species', characterises coastal conditions on the shelves.