Geographical CO <inf>2</inf> sensitivity of phytoplankton correlates with ocean buffer capacity

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Global Change Biology, 2018, 24 (9), pp. 4438 - 4452
Issue Date:
2018-09-01
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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Accumulation of anthropogenic CO 2 is significantly altering ocean chemistry. A range of biological impacts resulting from this oceanic CO 2 accumulation are emerging, however, the mechanisms responsible for observed differential susceptibility between organisms and across environmental settings remain obscure. A primary consequence of increased oceanic CO 2 uptake is a decrease in the carbonate system buffer capacity, which characterizes the system's chemical resilience to changes in CO 2 , generating the potential for enhanced variability in pCO 2 and the concentration of carbonate [(Formula presented.)], bicarbonate [(Formula presented.)], and protons [H + ] in the future ocean. We conducted a meta-analysis of 17 shipboard manipulation experiments performed across three distinct geographical regions that encompassed a wide range of environmental conditions from European temperate seas to Arctic and Southern oceans. These data demonstrated a correlation between the magnitude of natural phytoplankton community biological responses to short-term CO 2 changes and variability in the local buffer capacity across ocean basin scales. Specifically, short-term suppression of small phytoplankton (<10 μm) net growth rates were consistently observed under enhanced pCO 2 within experiments performed in regions with higher ambient buffer capacity. The results further highlight the relevance of phytoplankton cell size for the impacts of enhanced pCO 2 in both the modern and future ocean. Specifically, cell size-related acclimation and adaptation to regional environmental variability, as characterized by buffer capacity, likely influences interactions between primary producers and carbonate chemistry over a range of spatio-temporal scales.
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