Univ.-Prof. Dr.

Petra Heinz


Tel.: +43-1-4277-535 80
Roomnr.: 2A 424


Scientific Staff

Research Theme:

Marine Paleo-ecosystemsandmicropaleontology

Research Statement

We reconstruct modern and past marine ecosystems with micropaleontological, ecological and biological studies on benthic foraminifera. Foraminifera react very sensible to changing environmental conditions, which can be observed by varying faunal compositions, abundances, diversities and distributions. Therefore, the analysis of a foraminiferal community record can give important information on different environmental factors influencing this community, like food availability, oxygen content, water depth, temperature or salinity. Additionally, stable isotopic composition (13C- and 18O) of calcareous foraminiferal tests mirrors regional and global environmental signals, which influence seawater composition. (e.g. temperature, alkalinity, symbioses).

We use classical micropaleontological methods based on light microscopy, SEM, and taxonomy to analyse core sediments. We complement these investigations by modern experimental studies to enlarge our knowledge about foraminiferal habitat demands and their response to ecosystem variations. Experimental work include in situ experiments, directly operated on the sea floor with submersibles or ROVs, as well as laboratory studies and molecular biological methods with our foraminiferal lab cultures.

Selected publications

Heinz, P., Hemleben, Ch., Kitazato, H., 2002. Time-response of cultured deep-sea benthic foraminifera to different algae diets. Deep-Sea Research I, 49: 517-537.

Witte, U., Wenzhöfer, F., Sommer, S., Boetius, A., Heinz, P., Aberle, N., Sand, M., Cremer, A., Abraham, W.-R., Jørgensen, B. B., Pfannkuche, O., 2003. In situ experimental evidence of the fate of a phytodetritus pulse at the abyssal sea floor. Nature, 424: 763-766.

Geslin, E., Heinz, P., Jorissen, F., Hemleben, Ch., 2004. Migratory responses of deep-sea benthic foraminifera to variable oxygen conditions: laboratory investigations. Marine Micropaleontology, 53: 227-243.

Heinz, P., Sommer, S., Pfannkuche, O., Hemleben, Ch. 2005. Living benthic foraminifera in sediments influenced by gas hydrates at the Cascadia convergent margin, NE Pacific. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 304: 77-89.

Nomaki, H., Heinz, P., Nakatsuka, T., Shimanaga, M., Kitazato, H., 2005. Species-specific ingestion of organic carbon by deep-sea benthic foraminifera and meiobenthos: In situ tracer experiments. Limnology and Oceanography, 50 (1): 134-146.

Heinz, P., Hemleben, Ch. 2006. Foraminiferal response to the Northeast Monsoon in the western and southern Arabian Sea. Marine Micropaleontology, 58: 103-113.

Schmidt, C., Heinz, P., Kucera, M., Uthicke, S. 2011. Temperature-induced stress leads to bleaching in larger benthic Foraminifera hosting endosymbiotic diatoms. Limnology and Oceanography, 56 (6): 1587-1602.

Heinz, P., Marten, R. A., Linshy, V. N., Haap, T., Geslin, E., Köhler, H.-R. 2012. 70 kD stress protein (Hsp70) analysis in living shallow-water benthic foraminifera. Marine Biology Research, 8: 677-681.