Phosphorus in cold-water corals as a proxy for seawater nutrient chemistry.Science. 2006 Jun 23; 312(5781):1788-91.Sci
Phosphorus is a key macronutrient being strongly enriched in the deep ocean as a result of continuous export and remineralization of biomass from primary production. We show that phosphorus incorporated within the skeletons of the cosmopolitan cold-water coral Desmophyllum dianthus is directly proportional to the ambient seawater phosphorus concentration and thus may serve as a paleo-oceanographic proxy for variations in ocean productivity as well as changes in the residence times and sources of deep-water masses. The application of this tool to fossil specimens from the Mediterranean reveals phosphorus-enriched bottom waters at the end of the Younger Dryas period.