When Ocean Acidification Intensifies, Which Species Will Be The Ultimate Survivor?
What impact does ocean acidification have on the plankton community and the material fluxes in the marine ecological food chain?
After two months of research at at the Raunefjord in Bergen (Norway), scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel now have the answers to these questions. Apparently, it depends on which species you belong to.
Using eight floating experimental KOSMOS (Kiel Offshore Mesocosms for Future Ocean Simulations) mesocosms, scientists studied how the complex marine communities responded to different levels of carbon dioxide uptake from the atmosphere. Four of these mesocosms had elevated carbon dioxide concentrations.
According to Professor Ulf Riebesell, professor of biological
oceanography at GEOMAR and the experiment's coordinator, “None of the previous studies has revealed as clearly as this one how interactions within the food web determine the sensitivity of the plankton community towards ocean acidification.”
To test whether the single-celled Emiliania huxleyi could adapt,
scientists used subjects that had been living in the laboratory after
more than 2,500 generations under acidic conditions. After so many
generations, had the organisms evolved sufficiently enough to enable
them to survive in the acidic conditions inside the mesocosms?
The answer was no. The organism still suffered elevated loss rates and lowered population densities. As the Emiliania huxleyi has the ability to store carbon and also produce the climate-cooling gas dimethyl sulphide (DMS), having less of them in our environment would be bad news.