Diverse trends in shell weight of three Southern Ocean pteropod taxa collected with Polar Frontal Zone sediment traps from 1997 to 2007
Roberts, D and Howard, WR and Roberts, JL and Bray, SG and Moy, AD and Trull, T and Hopcroft, RR, Diverse trends in shell weight of three Southern Ocean pteropod taxa collected with Polar Frontal Zone sediment traps from 1997 to 2007, Polar Biology, 37, (10) pp. 1445-1458. ISSN 0722-4060 (2014) [Refereed Article]
The impact of ocean acidification on key ocean calcifiers is predicted to be imminent, particularly in high-latitude ecosystems. Long-term field observations are essential to ground truth predictions of change in regional ecosystems. Here, we report on aragonitic pteropods collected to sediment traps at 800 m depth at 54°S, 140°E in the Polar Frontal Zone (PFZ) of the Southern Ocean from 1997 to 2007. Statistically significant trends were not identified in either mass or number flux from 1997 to 2007; however, differences emerged in decadal trends seen in shell weight for each of the three common taxa collected: Limacina helicina antarctica forma antarctica shells became significantly lighter (P < 0.05), L. retroversa australis shells became significantly heavier (P < 0.05) and L. helicina antarctica forma rangi shells did not change significantly. These results suggest that factors other than ocean acidification affect pteropod population variations on decadal timescales, with the potential to either amplify or counter the impact of decreasing aragonite saturation state, at least in the short term. Comparison to sea surface temperature and chlorophyll biomass did not identify these as significant drivers of the observed changes, and attribution across these multiple variables requires better understanding of pteropod physiology and ecology. Our PFZ pelagic pteropod observations provide a reference for evaluation of southern polar pteropod responses to changing ocean conditions in coming decades. Importantly, these data also raise the issue of taxonomic care when monitoring the region for impacts of ocean acidification on calcifiers.