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More, Kuldeep D.; Orsi, William D.; Galy, Valier; Giosan, Liviu; He, Lijun; Grice, Kliti and Coolen, Marco J. L. (2018): A 43 kyr record of protist communities and their response to oxygen minimum zone variability in the Northeastern Arabian Sea. In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 496: pp. 248-256

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An extensive oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) occurs in the northeastern (NE) Arabian Sea where sedimentary records show evidence of alternating strong and weak OMZs that correlate with North Atlantic climate variability during the last glacial-interglacial cycle. OMZs are expanding world-wide, but information on long-term OMZ-ecosystem interactions is mainly limited to fossilized species, notably foraminifera. Here, we provide a first comprehensive ancient sedimentary DNA record of both fossilizing and non-fossilizing protists and their response to OMZ variability in the NE Arabian Sea over the last 43 ka. Protist communities changed significantly during strong vs. weak OMZ conditions coincident with interstadials and stadials respectively. Dinoflagellates were identified as significant indicator taxa for strong OMZs during glacial as well as interglacial interstadials, whereas diatoms were significant indicators for strong OMZs only during glacial interstadials. The chlorophyte Chlorella was found to be the main phototrophic protist in nutrient-depleted surface waters during glacial stadials. Notably, strong OMZ conditions shaped past protist communities by creating isolated habitats for those capable of sustaining oxygen depletion either by adapting a parasitic life cycle (e.g. apicomplexans) or by establishing mutualistic connections with others (e.g. radiolarians and mixotrophic dinoflagellates) or by forming cysts (e.g. colpodeans). Notably, a long-term increase in eutrophication and a decrease in the diatom/dinoflagellate ratio was observed during the late Holocene favoring the pelagic component of the marine food web. A similar scenario could be expected in the context of predicted worldwide expansion of coastal OMZs associated with global climate change.

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