Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubozoan predator
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Global Change Biology, 2018, 24 (1), pp. e128 - e138
- Issue Date:
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© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd The composition of local ecological communities is determined by the members of the regional community that are able to survive the abiotic and biotic conditions of a local ecosystem. Anthropogenic activities since the industrial revolution have increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which have in turn decreased ocean pH and altered carbonate ion concentrations: so called ocean acidification (OA). Single-species experiments have shown how OA can dramatically affect zooplankton development, physiology and skeletal mineralization status, potentially reducing their defensive function and altering their predatory and antipredatory behaviors. This means that increased OA may indirectly alter the biotic conditions by modifying trophic interactions. We investigated how OA affects the impact of a cubozoan predator on their zooplankton prey, predominantly Copepoda, Pleocyemata, Dendrobranchiata, and Amphipoda. Experimental conditions were set at either current (pCO2 370 μatm) or end-of-the-century OA (pCO2 1,100 μatm) scenarios, crossed in an orthogonal experimental design with the presence/absence of the cubozoan predator Carybdea rastoni. The combined effects of exposure to OA and predation by C. rastoni caused greater shifts in community structure, and greater reductions in the abundance of key taxa than would be predicted from combining the effect of each stressor in isolation. Specifically, we show that in the combined presence of OA and a cubozoan predator, populations of the most abundant member of the zooplankton community (calanoid copepods) were reduced 27% more than it would be predicted based on the effects of these stressors in isolation, suggesting that OA increases the susceptibility of plankton to predation. Our results indicate that the ecological consequences of OA may be greater than predicted from single-species experiments, and highlight the need to understand future marine global change from a community perspective.
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