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Metabolically induced pH fluctuations by some coastal calcifiers exceed projected 22nd century oceanacidification: a mechanism for differential susceptibility?


Hurd, CL and Cornwall, CE and Currie, K and Hepburn, CD and McGraw, CM and Hunter, KA and Boyd, PW, Metabolically induced pH fluctuations by some coastal calcifiers exceed projected 22nd century oceanacidification: a mechanism for differential susceptibility?, Global Change Biology, 17, (10) pp. 3254-3262. ISSN 1354-1013 (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02473.x


Anthropogenically mediated decreases in pH, termed ocean acidification (OA), may be a major threat to marine organisms and communities. Research has focussed mainly on tropical coral reefs, but temperate reefs play a no less important ecological role in colder waters, where OA effects may first be manifest. Herein, we report that trends in pH at the surface of three ecologically important cold-water calcifiers (a primary producer and herbivores), under a range of fluid flows, differ substantially from one another, and for two of the three calcifiers, the pH, during darkness, is lower than the mean projected pH due to OA for the surface waters of the global ocean beyond the year 2100. Using micro-electrodes, we show that each calcifier had a different pH gradient between its surface and mainstream seawater, i.e. within the diffusion boundary layer (DBL) that appears to act as an environmental buffer to mainstream pH. Abalone encountered only mainstream seawater pH, whereas pH at the sea urchins’ surface was reduced by ~0.35 units. For coralline algae, pH was ~0.5 units higher in the light and ~0.35 units lower under darkness than in ambient mainstream seawater. This wide range of pH within the DBL of some calcifiers will probably affect their performance under projected future reductions in pH due to OA. Differing exposure to a range of surface pH may result in differential susceptibility of calcifiers to OA. Such fluctuations are no doubt regulated by the interplay of water movement, morphology and metabolic rates (e.g. respiration, calcification and/or photosynthesis). Our study, by considering physics (flow regime), chemistry (pH gradients vs. OA future projections) and biology (trophic level, physiology and morphology), reveals that predicting species-specific responses and subsequent ecosystem restructuring to OA is complex and requires a holistic, eco-mechanical, approach.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ocean acidification, seaweed, sea urchin, abalone, pH, differential susceptibility
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Ecosystem adaptation to climate change
UTAS Author:Hurd, CL (Professor Catriona Hurd)
UTAS Author:Cornwall, CE (Dr Chris Cornwall)
UTAS Author:Boyd, PW (Professor Philip Boyd)
ID Code:91473
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:130
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2014-05-20
Last Modified:2014-08-12

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