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Using foraminifera as environmental indicators after an oil spill

The shells of abundant, tiny, marine organisms known as foraminifera deform when exposed to environmental pollutants. When foraminifera die they leave behind these shells as a record of the conditions through which they lived.  A team of researchers, including professor emeritus/UCMP curator Jere Lipps, reported on the usefulness of forams as environmental indicators after studying the impact of the 1978 Amoco Cadiz oil spill on the Brittany Coast. This work was presented on September 7 by Lipps' colleague, Marie-Thérèse Vénec-Peyré at the international Forams 2010 symposium in Bonn, Germany.

Developing a better understanding of forams as indicators of pollution gives scientists a powerful tool to measure the impact of future enviornmental disasters. Read more in this UC Berkeley News press release.