Sediment samples from the Ontong-Java Plateau in the Pacific and the 90degrees east ridge in the Indian Ocean were used to investigate whether shell size and early diagenesis affect delta(11)B of the symbiont-bearing planktonic foraminifer Globigerinoides sacculifer. In pristine shells from both study locations we found a systematic increase of delta(11)B and Mg/Ca with shell size. Shells in the sieve size class 515 - 865 mm revealed delta(11)B values + 2.1 to + 2.3parts per thousand higher than shells in the 250 - 380 mum class. This pattern is most likely due to differences in symbiont photosynthetic activity and its integrated effect on the pH of the foraminiferal microenvironment. We therefore suggest smaller individuals must live at approximately 50 - 100 m water depth where ambient light levels are lower. Using the empirical calibration curve for delta(11)B in G. sacculifer, only shells larger than 425 mum reflect surface seawater pH. Partial dissolution of shells derived from deeper sediment cores was determined by shell weight analyses and investigation of the shell surface microstructure by scanning electron microscopy. The delta(11)B in partially dissolved shells is up to 2% lower relative to pristine shells of the same size class. In agreement with a relatively higher weight loss in smaller shells, samples from the Ontong-Java Plateau show a more pronounced dissolution effect than larger shells. On the basis of the primary size effect and potential postdepositional dissolution effects, we recommend the use of shells that are visually pristine and, in the case of G. sacculifer, larger than 500 mum for paleoreconstructions.
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