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McCoy, Sophie J; Ragazzola, Federica (2014): Skeletal trade-offs in coralline algae in response to ocean acidification. PANGAEA,, Supplement to: McCoy, SJ; Ragazzola, F (2014): Skeletal trade-offs in coralline algae in response to ocean acidification. Nature Climate Change, 4(8), 719-723,

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Ocean acidification is changing the marine environment, with potentially serious consequences for many organisms. Much of our understanding of ocean acidification effects comes from laboratory experiments, which demonstrate physiological responses over relatively short timescales. Observational studies and, more recently, experimental studies in natural systems suggest that ocean acidification will alter the structure of seaweed communities. Here, we provide a mechanistic understanding of altered competitive dynamics among a group of seaweeds, the crustose coralline algae (CCA). We compare CCA from historical experiments (1981-1997) with specimens from recent, identical experiments (2012) to describe morphological changes over this time period, which coincides with acidification of seawater in the Northeastern Pacific. Traditionally thick species decreased in thickness by a factor of 2.0-2.3, but did not experience a change in internal skeletal metrics. In contrast, traditionally thin species remained approximately the same thickness but reduced their total carbonate tissue by making thinner inter-filament cell walls. These changes represent alternative mechanisms for the reduction of calcium carbonate production in CCA and suggest energetic trade-offs related to the cost of building and maintaining a calcium carbonate skeleton as pH declines. Our classification of stress response by morphological type may be generalizable to CCA at other sites, as well as to other calcifying organisms with species-specific differences in morphological types.
Further details:
Pfister, Catherine A; McCoy, Sophie J; Wootton, J Timothy; Martin, Pamela A; Colman, Albert Smith; Archer, David E (2011): Rapid Environmental Change over the Past Decade Revealed by Isotopic Analysis of the California Mussel in the Northeast Pacific. PLoS ONE, 6(10), e25766, (Seawater chemistry)
Wootton, J Timothy; Pfister, Catherine A (2012): Carbon System Measurements and Potential Climatic Drivers at a Site of Rapidly Declining Ocean pH. PLoS ONE, 7(12), e53396, (Seawater chemistry)
Wootton, J Timothy; Pfister, Catherine A; Forester, J D (2008): Dynamic patterns and ecological impacts of declining ocean pH in a high-resolution multi-year dataset. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(48), 18848-18853, (Seawater chemistry)
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Datasets listed in this publication series

  1. McCoy, SJ; Ragazzola, F (2014): Historical and recent cell wall thickness of coralline algae.
  2. McCoy, SJ; Ragazzola, F (2014): Historical and recent thallus thickness.