Unifying biological field observations to detect and compare ocean acidification impacts across marine species and ecosystems: what to monitor and why

Widdicombe, S, Isensee, K, Artioli, Y, Gaitan-Espitia, JD, Hauri, C, Newton, JA, Wells, M and Dupont, S 2023 Unifying biological field observations to detect and compare ocean acidification impacts across marine species and ecosystems: what to monitor and why. Ocean Science, 19 (1). 101-119. https://doi.org/10.5194/os-19-101-2023

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/os-19-101-2023


Abstract. Approximately one-quarter of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere annually from human activities is absorbed by the ocean, resulting in a reduction of seawater pH and shifts in seawater carbonate chemistry. This multidecadal process, termed “anthropogenic ocean acidification” (OA), has been shown to have detrimental impacts on marine ecosystems. Recent years have seen a globally coordinated effort to measure the changes in seawater chemistry caused by OA, with best practices now available for these measurements. In contrast to these substantial advances in observing physicochemical changes due to OA, quantifying their biological consequences remains challenging, especially from in situ observations under real-world conditions. Results from 2 decades of controlled laboratory experiments on OA have given insight into the likely processes and mechanisms by which elevated CO2 levels affect biological process, but the manifestation of these process across a plethora of natural situations has yet to be fully explored. This challenge requires us to identify a set of fundamental biological and ecological indicators that are (i) relevant across all marine ecosystems, (ii) have a strongly demonstrated link to OA, and (iii) have implications for ocean health and the provision of ecosystem services with impacts on local marine management strategies and economies. This paper draws on the understanding of biological impacts provided by the wealth of previous experiments, as well as the findings of recent meta-analyses, to propose five broad classes of biological indicators that, when coupled with environmental observations including carbonate chemistry, would allow the rate and severity of biological change in response to OA to be observed and compared. These broad indicators are applicable to different ecological systems, and the methods for data analysis suggested here would allow researchers to combine biological response data across regional and global scales by correlating rates of biological change with the rate of change in carbonate chemistry parameters. Moreover, a method using laboratory observation to design an optimal observing strategy (frequency and duration) and observe meaningful biological rates of change highlights the factors that need to be considered when applying our proposed observation strategy. This innovative observing methodology allows inclusion of a wide diversity of marine ecosystems in regional and global assessments and has the potential to increase the contribution of OA observations from countries with developing OA science capacity.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Other (PML)
Depositing User: S Hawkins
Date made live: 31 May 2023 09:22
Last Modified: 31 May 2023 09:22
URI: https://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/9952

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