Glimpse into the future of acidic oceans shows ecosystems transformed

Jul 08, 2013
A zone of ambient acidity shows algae growth. UC Davis researchers from Bodega Marine Laboratory studied three zones of varying acidity off the coast of Italy and found algae dominated highly acidic waters. In waters with lower acidity, "grazers" like sea urchins, help keep algae in check. Credit: Kristy Kroeker/UC Davis

Ocean acidification may create an impact similar to extinction on marine ecosystems, according to a study released today by the University of California, Davis.

The study, published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that can degrade not only individual species, as past studies have shown, but entire ecosystems. This results in a homogenized marine community, dominated by fewer plants and animals.

"The background, low-grade stress caused by ocean acidification can cause a whole shift in the ecosystem so that everything is dominated by the same plants, which tend to be turf algae," said lead author Kristy Kroeker, a postdoctoral researcher at the Bodega Marine Laboratory at UC Davis.

"In most ecosystems, there are lots of different colorful patches of plants and animals—of algae, of sponges, of anemones," Kroeker said. "With ocean acidification, you lose that patchiness. We call it a loss of ; everything looks the same."

In the waters surrounding Castello Aragonese, a 14th century castle off the coast of Italy, naturally release bubbles of , creating different levels of acidity among the marine-animal and plant communities there. These gradients of acidity gave the scientists a glimpse of what a future marked by increasingly acidic ocean waters could look like, and how the creatures and plants living in those environments may react to it.

The researchers selected three reef zones—of low, high and extremely high acidity, representing world for the present day, 2100 and 2500, respectively. Then they removed animals and vegetation from the rocks there. Every few months for three years, Kroeker dived to the study plots to photograph them and watch how the plots in each zone recovered.

By examining how recovery differed among zones, the study found that acidic water reduced the number and variety of species. In the non-acidic plots, many different , including turf algae, would colonize and grow. Calcareous species, such as sea urchins and snails, would then eat them, allowing for variety through time.

However, in both the high and extremely high acidic plots, fleshy turf algae increased steadily and overtook the zones, as the urchins and other grazers were either not present or did not graze on the algae while in these zones.

Calcareous grazers play key roles in maintaining the balance within . They are also considered among the most vulnerable species to ocean acidification.

"Our research is showing that if the role of these grazers changes with ocean acidification, you might expect to see cascading effects of the whole ecosystem," Kroeker said. "If the pattern holds for other calcareous grazers, this has implications for other ecosystems, as well."

Explore further: 3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

More information: "Community dynamics and ecosystem simplification in a high-CO2 ocean," PNAS, 2013.

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User comments : 15

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VENDItardE
1.5 / 5 (16) Jul 08, 2013
more greeenie BS
Howhot
4.1 / 5 (13) Jul 08, 2013
It is always amazing how people (like the previous comment-er) will show such animosity towards a very serious threat to future mankind (and Earthkind) ecosystems. Such negativity to fellow living creatures the above tard whiner has.
Neinsense99
3.5 / 5 (16) Jul 08, 2013
more greeenie BS

How many microseconds did you spend in contemplation of that one?
antigoracle
2.1 / 5 (19) Jul 08, 2013
The earth is teeming with fossils of life that flourished during the Carboniferous age when CO2 was several times what it is today. This is just more AGW Alarmists propaganda to keep the ignorant cult in check.
http://www.geocra...ate.html
deepsand
3.2 / 5 (18) Jul 08, 2013
The Earth is also teeming with the fossils of those who failed to survive rapid climate changes.

This is something that the cult of Denial of Reality would prefer people not learn of.

antigoracle
2.2 / 5 (17) Jul 08, 2013
The Earth is also teeming with the fossils of those who failed to survive rapid climate changes.

This is something that the cult of Denial of Reality would prefer people not learn of.


When did these rapid climate change occur and which era of mankind, burning what fossil fuels, were responsible. No, wait, it all occurred naturally.
The earth is obviously, also teeming with AGW Alarmists turds that are incapable of learning, far less of independent thought.
Sanescience
2.1 / 5 (14) Jul 09, 2013
Coral might not be directly affected by moderate changes in ph,

http://www.scienc...0622.htm

But the large scale fishing of the oceans which allows elevated plankton and algae to cloud and insulate the water may very well be causing much of the harm seen to ecosystems.

Don't obsess over "climate change", you could miss one of the many other ways in which human activity is stressing the environment!
NikFromNYC
1.3 / 5 (14) Jul 09, 2013
Green boondoggles and billion dollar federal R&D funding of a field that relies on brazen scientific fraud for funding (see: Michael Mann celebrated Marcott hockey stick with no hockey stick in either the associated Ph.D. thesis or the raw data) requires a simple Econ 101 class to be classified as being disastrously genocidal in an era of antibiotic resistance and a demographic crash in tax revenues to support medical treatments for non-millionaires. Greenies condescendingly shout loudy better to drown out the whispers of their own conscience.
NikFromNYC
1.8 / 5 (16) Jul 09, 2013
Do you see a hockey stick in this input data? Michael Mann does!

http://s17.postim...tick.jpg

Until climate science cleans house, their claim to being a science at all will continue to fail even the laugh test.
gmurphy
4.3 / 5 (11) Jul 09, 2013
@NikFromNYC, I refer you to the climate study funded by the Koch brothers. These oil magnates are the last people on the planet who want to increase the evidence for global warming but that's exactly what their study found. How does that finding fit into your theory of "scientific fraud"?
antigoracle
1.5 / 5 (15) Jul 09, 2013

Until climate science cleans house, their claim to being a science at all will continue to fail even the laugh test.

Something the AGW Alarmists fail to comprehend.
In the true scientific disciplines, there are those who have been made outcasts for less. In "climate science" the corrupt are praised by the cult.
deepsand
3.2 / 5 (11) Jul 09, 2013
The Earth is also teeming with the fossils of those who failed to survive rapid climate changes.

This is something that the cult of Denial of Reality would prefer people not learn of.

When did these rapid climate change occur and which era of mankind, burning what fossil fuels, were responsible. No, wait, it all occurred naturally.

AO is obviously of the mistaken belief that all present actions are constrained to being the effects of known past causes. Were that the case we'd still be cooking with fire.

The earth is obviously, also teeming with AGW Alarmists turds that are incapable of learning, far less of independent thought.

Time to have your mommy wipe the feces from your mouth and change your diaper.
deepsand
3.2 / 5 (11) Jul 09, 2013
Green boondoggles and billion dollar federal R&D funding of a field that relies on brazen scientific fraud for funding (see: Michael Mann celebrated Marcott hockey stick with no hockey stick in either the associated Ph.D. thesis or the raw data) requires a simple Econ 101 class to be classified as being disastrously genocidal in an era of antibiotic resistance and a demographic crash in tax revenues to support medical treatments for non-millionaires. Greenies condescendingly shout loudy better to drown out the whispers of their own conscience.

All those words and nothing of value. What a waste of perfectly good photons.
deepsand
3.2 / 5 (11) Jul 09, 2013

Until climate science cleans house, their claim to being a science at all will continue to fail even the laugh test.

Something the AGW Alarmists fail to comprehend.
In the true scientific disciplines, there are those who have been made outcasts for less. In "climate science" the corrupt are praised by the cult.

One wearies of your constant pecking at one aspect of a subject like an insane woodpecker looking for a grub in a block of concrete.
SURFIN85
5 / 5 (1) Jul 16, 2013
Erosive trends, such as acidification, require comprehensive and immediate intervention to mitigate the consequences.

These consequences will be cumulative, they will be permanent, and they will be regrettable.

History shows that inaction brings ruin and punishment. The "punishment" of becoming ecologically conscious, energy-efficient, non-polluting, and minimizing consumption is absolutely benign compared to the punishment of living in a degraded environment, living among people who are fully knowledgeable of the sins of previous generations and conscious of the lack of stewardship evidenced by the effects of inaction.

We will be judged as wise, or as fools, by or actions. Living a moral and ethical life guarantees that you will face the situation requiring sacrifice. Sacrifice is something 1st-world people know little about. They must learn or they will be punished, or their offspring punished.

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