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Stressors in the Marine EnvironmentPhysiological and ecological responses; societal implications$
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Martin Solan and Nia Whiteley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718826

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718826.001.0001

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Ecological effects of ocean acidification

Ecological effects of ocean acidification

(p.195) Chapter 11 Ecological effects of ocean acidification
Stressors in the Marine Environment

M. Débora Iglesias-Rodriguez

Katharina E. Fabricius

Paul McElhany

Oxford University Press

Changes in seawater chemistry driven by ocean acidification are altering the physiological performance and ecology of marine biota. Ocean acidification effects on calcification, photosynthesis, and neurophysiological functions differ between taxa and life stages, and such differential responses can lead to important ecological shifts in populations and communities. Two of the main challenges in predicting the ecological effects of ocean acidification are (1) integration across these levels of organization, from seawater chemistry to multi-species interactions, and (2) assessing the synergistic effect with other climate stressors that operate in parallel. While the literature is full of examples of taxa with high sensitivity, a small proportion of taxa appears resilient or displays some ability to acclimate or adapt to changes in inorganic carbon chemistry. Knowledge of the specific energetic costs of acclimation to ocean acidification is scarce, but energetic trade-offs are likely required in these resilient types to maintain physiological processes such as calcification under low pH conditions. Ocean acidification must be investigated in the context of other climate stressors, and new depth and temperature ranges will require complex adaptation strategies. High latitude and upwelling regions are already experiencing pronounced chemical shifts and, in some cases, seasonal calcium carbonate undersaturation, and many calcifiers are responding physiologically and ecologically to those changes. Although there is substantial uncertainty in the predictions of future ecosystem structures, it appears inevitable that the composition and function of many marine ecosystems will be altered in the near future due to the rapidly progressing acidification and warming of the oceans.

Keywords:   ocean acidification, calcification, carbon chemistry, calcifiers, acclimation, adaptation, marine ecosystems

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