Tropical marine ostracodes from Neogene and Quaternary sediments of the Central American Caribbean region have been the subject of biostratigraphic, ecological, taxonomic, and evolutionary studies. As part of the Panama Paleontology Project (PPP), Neogene and Quaternary ostracodes are being studied from the Central American region. The overall goal of this research is to evaluate the impact of the emergence of the Central American Isthmus as a land barrier between the Caribbean/tropical Atlantic and the Pacific oceans on marine ostracode biodiversity and the oceanic environments in which extant ostracodes evolved. Due to the ecological specificity of many living tropical ostracode species, they are ideally suited for reconstructing paleoenvironments on the basis of their occurrence in fossil assemblages, which in turn can lead to a better understanding of the tropical climatic and tectonic history of Central America. The principal aims of this chapter are: (a) to document the composition of the ostracode assemblages from the Limón Basin of Costa Rica and the Bocas del Toro Basin of Panama, two areas yielding extensive ma rine ostracode assemblages; (b) to describe the environments of deposition within these basins; and (c) to document the stratigraphic distribution of potentially agediagnostic ostracode species in the Limón and Bocas del Toro basins in order to enhance their use in Central American biostratigraphy. A secondary, but none-the-less important goal is to assemble a database on the distribution of modem ostracode species in the Caribbean and adjacent areas as a basis for comparison with fossil assemblages. Although the ecological, biostratigraphic and paleoenvironmental conclusions presented here will improve as additional material is studied, these fossil and modem ostracode databases constitute the foundation for future evolutionary and geochernical studies of tropical Caribbean and eastern Pacific Ocean ostracodes. Moreover, we present here evidence that major faunal and oceanic changes occurred in the westem Caribbean over the last 4 million years, probably related to changes in ocean circulation due to the emergence of the Isthmus as well as other climatic events.
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Neogene-quaternary Ostracoda and paleoenvironments, of the Limón basin, Costa Rica, and Bocas del Toro basin, Panama