The distribution and variation of oxygen isotopes in seawater are calculated using the Goddard Institute for Space Studies global ocean model. Simple ecological models are used to estimate the planktonic foraminiferal abundance as a function of depth, column temperature, season, light intensity, and density stratification. These models are combined to forward model isotopic signals recorded in calcareous ocean sediment. The sensitivity of the results to the changes in foraminiferal ecology, secondary calcification, and dissolution are also examined. Simulated present-day isotopic values for ecology relevant for multiple species compare well with core-top data. Hindcasts of sea surface temperature and salinity are made from time series of the modeled carbonate isotope values as the model climate changes. Paleoclimatic inferences from these carbonate isotope records are strongly affected by erroneous assumptions concerning the covariations of temperature, salinity, and δ18Ow. Habitat-imposed biases are less important, although errors due to temperature-dependent abundances can be significant.