Foraminiferal studies have been used in palaeo-environmental reconstructions of the marine Cretaceous succession (upper Aptian to Maastrichtian) of the Sergipe Basin, in northeastern Brazil. The foraminiferal assemblages show broadly three types of response to changes in environment: (1) variations in morphotypes of the taxa present; (2) changes in specific and generic diversity; and (3) changes in relative abundance.
Twelve palaeocommunities, characterised by the relative dominance of the major foraminiferal groups, can be recognised in the succession. Their palaeoenvironmental distribution is proposed as a model with reference to the Sergipe Cretaceous sequence.
An intimate relationship is inferred among foraminiferal association distribution patterns, trophic structures (community feeding strategy, dwelling habits, substrate niche patterns) and water-mass conditions (depth-related in part). It is suggested that the distribution patterns may be a direct response of the functional adaptive morphology of the foraminiferal tests to individual characteristics of behavioural structure (preferential dwelling microhabitat and trophic strategy versus environment). The approach is a simple, yet very powerful tool, for the interpretation of foraminiferal palaeocommunities and palaeoceanographic research. It may also permit interpretation of palaeocommunity strategies in terms of adaptation rate and selection response (i.e. “r-selection” versus “k-selection”) to variable environmental conditions.