Buttons image

soft-bodied foramcalcareous foram

(Left) A soft-bodied Allogromiid
(Right) SEM image of the calcareous foram Epistominella exigua


Andrew J. Gooday


For more years than I care to remember (or reveal!), I have worked on deep-sea shelled protozoans - basically the foraminifera and the xenophyophores. My work has concentrated in the NE Atlantic but I have also worked in the NW Atlantic, the Arabian Sea and the Antarctic. These single-celled organisms span a size range from a few 10s of microns up to >10cm and include giant forms which do not conform to the usual idea of what protozoans look like. Within these groups I have made a special effort to study soft-shelled species (e.g. allogromiids), an often neglected but extremely important component of deep-sea communities. I have also tried to develop linkages between biological studies and the use of foraminifera in interpreting the palaeoceanographic record.

I am interested in many aspects of the ecology and taxonomy of foraminifera and xenophyophores but in recent years I have tended to concentrate on a couple of main themes. Foraminifera are very sensitive to environmental conditions. In particular, relations between organic matter fluxes and the abundance and species composition of assemblages is a central topic in foraminiferal ecology. Fluxes often vary seasonally and so foraminiferal populations may exhibit temporal variability patterns, although these differ among species.


I have tried to document scales and patterns of foraminiferal diversity. How many species occur locally and regionally? Are cosmopolitan distributions more prevalent among deep-sea species compared to those living in shallow water? Are trends in foraminiferal diversity in response to environmental gradients similar or different to those exhibited by metazoans? My aim is to bring foraminifera into the debate on what controls local and regional deep-sea diversity.


My work on xenophyophores has tended to be more taxonomic. I have described new species and spent quite a lot of time looking for these peculiar protozoans at the DEEPSEAS Porcupine Abyssal Plain site. NE Atlantic xenophyophores tend to be small and delicate compared to their Pacific counterparts, and are quite difficult to spot.