A world checklist of Foraminifera (recent and fossil), compiled by taxonomic experts and based on peer-reviewed literature.
Foraminifera (‘hole bearers’), foraminifers or forams for short, are a large phylum of amoeboid protozoans (single celled) with reticulating pseudopods, fine strands of cytoplasm that branch and merge to form a dynamic net. They usually produce a test (or shell) which can have one or more chambers, and are made of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) or mineral grains or other particles glued together. The tests are usually less than 0.5 mm in size, but the largest can be up to 20 cm across. Foraminifera are among the most abundant and scientifically important groups of organisms. The tests of recently dead planktic foraminifera are so abundant that they form a thick blanket over one third of the surface of the Earth (as Globigerina ooze on the ocean floor). Foraminifera are essentially marine and estuarine-dwelling protozoans living in all environments from the greatest depths right up to highest astronomical tide level and from the equator to the poles.
The importance of foraminifera comes from the use of their fossil tests in biostratigraphy, paleoenvironment studies, and isotope geochemistry. Their ubiquity in most marine sedimentary rocks, often as large, well-preserved, diverse assemblages, has resulted in their being the most studied group of fossils worldwide. Because recent foraminifera have attracted little interest from biologists, paleontologists have been forced to undertake most studies, including genetic research, on the living fauna.
This site has the following aims:
- to provide a catalogue of the world's foraminiferal species
- to promote stability in foraminiferal nomenclature
- to act as a tool for higher taxonomic revisions and regional monographs
The list of currently accepted species-group names is at least 90% complete for recent species, but the taxonomy of many taxa still needs revision and newly described species will be added as soon as possible after publication, a task that will be undertaken continuously by the editors. Fossil genera and higher taxa are mostly complete but fossil species will take many years to add in. There is currently no broad consensus available for the higher classification of the Foraminifera. Here, the classification given in Loeblich and Tappan (1987 and 1992) is mostly used for calcareous taxa and Kaminski (2004) is followed for agglutinated taxa, but the higher level classification of Foraminifera is in a state of revision and has been updated to comply with the genetic sequence-based results to date of Pawlowski et al. (2013) and Holzmann and Pawlowski (2017). Further results of ongoing molecular phylogenetic investigations will hopefully help to stabilise the taxonomic system in the future.