Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 6, pp 1377–1386 | Cite as

Cytherella as a tool to reconstruct deep-sea paleo-oxygen levels: the respiratory physiology of the platycopid ostracod Cytherella cf. abyssorum

  • Laure Corbari
  • Nathalie Mesmer-Dudons
  • Pierre Carbonel
  • Jean-Charles MassabuauEmail author
Research Article


The reconstruction of past climates is a major challenge. One approach is the use of paleoceanography, which looks for clues to the past activity of deep-sea currents by associating them with the melting of the poles. In different sampling zones, fossil biomarkers are used to reconstruct the oxygenation levels of the sea bottom. Among the ostracods (crustaceans), the family Cytherellidae is considered to be resistant to significant decreases in oxygen and their fossil valves are used as biomarkers for oxygenation levels in the past. We studied the basic principles behind Cytherella cf. abyssorum’s ability to adapt to variations in water oxygenation levels in an attempt to determine what could differentiate it from other ostracods. Cytherella cf. abyssorum Sars 1866 has an activity level and ventilatory frequency only half that of ostracods studied previously. When subjected to a decrease in oxygenation, it demonstrates the beginnings of ventilatory adaptation which is unknown in the other studied ostracods. Some morpho-functional aspects are also remarkable, such as the presence of thick valves, which can close hermetically by means of powerful adductor muscles. Compared with already studied ostracods, Cytherella cf. abyssorum has, therefore, characteristics which suggest an ability to present increased resistance in hypoxia. We discuss these results in the paleoceanographical context by describing a scenario suggesting why an increased proportion of the ostracod population could indicate the existence of ocean bottoms with low oxygenation.


Ventilatory Response Hypoxic Event Ventilatory Frequency Respiratory Physiology Blood Circulatory System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank P. Ciret for his invaluable technical support and Gilles Durrieu for his help during statistical analysis. Thanks to numerous members of the Ostracon list for helpful discussions or comments. The authors are most grateful to the crew members of the RV Côtes de la Manche for their help in the field research performed in the Bay of Biscay in the course of the Oxybent program (CNRS-INSU).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laure Corbari
    • 1
  • Nathalie Mesmer-Dudons
    • 1
  • Pierre Carbonel
    • 1
  • Jean-Charles Massabuau
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratoire d‘Ecophysiologie et Ecotoxicologie des Systèmes Aquatiques, UMR 5805Université Bordeaux 1 and CNRSArcachonFrance

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