There is great concern over the future effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms, especially for skeletal calcification, yet little is known of natural variation in skeleton size and composition across the globe, and this is a prerequisite for identifying factors currently controlling skeleton mass and thickness. Here taxonomically-controlled latitudinal variations in shell morphology and composition were investigated in bivalve and gastropod molluscs, brachiopods and echinoids. Total inorganic content, a proxy for skeletal CaCO3, decreased with latitude, decreasing seawater temperature and decreasing seawater carbonate saturation state (for CaCO3 as calcite (Ωcal)) in all taxa. Shell mass decreased with latitude in molluscs and shell inorganic content decreased with latitude in buccinid gastropods. Shell thickness decreased with latitude in buccinid gastropods (excepting the Australian temperate buccinid) and echinoids, but not brachiopods and laternulid clams. In the latter the polar species had the thickest shell. There was no latitudinal trend in shell thickness within brachiopods. The variation in trends in shell thickness by taxon suggests that in some circumstances ecological factors may override latitudinal trends. Latitudinal gradients may produce effects similar to those of future CO2-driven ocean acidification on CaCO3 saturation state. Responses to latitudinal trends in temperature and saturation state may therefore be useful in informing predictions of organism responses to ocean acidification over long-term adaptive timescales.
Archive for June 3rd, 2012
Marine invertebrate skeleton size varies with latitude, temperature, and carbonate saturation: implications for global change and ocean acidificationPublished 3 June 2012 Science 1 Comment
Tags: biological response, brachiopods, echinoderms, mollusks, morphometry
Tags: algae, Arctic, biological response, growth, laboratory, morphometry
The uptake of anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide is resulting in a lowering of the carbonate saturation state and a drop in ocean pH. Understanding how marine calcifying organisms such as coralline algae may acclimatize to ocean acidification is important to understand their survival over the coming century. We present the first long-term perturbation experiment on the cold-water coralline algae, which are important marine calcifiers in the benthic ecosystems particularly at the higher latitudes. Lithothamnion glaciale, after three months incubation, continued to calcify even in undersaturated conditions with a significant trend towards lower growth rates with increasing pCO2. However, the major changes in the ultra-structure occur by 589 μatm (i.e. in saturated waters). Finite element models of the algae grown at these heightened levels show an increase in the total strain energy of nearly an order of magnitude and an uneven distribution of the stress inside the skeleton when subjected to similar loads as algae grown at ambient levels. This weakening of the structure is likely to reduce the ability of the alga to resist boring by predators and wave energy with severe consequences to the benthic community structure in the immediate future (50 years).