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Impact of ocean acidification and warming on polar shelled pteropods (Limacina spp.) (Acidification and pteropods)

Increasing anthropogenic CO2-loads are reducing ocean pH-values and carbonate concentrations, with strongest effects in high-latitude surface waters, which are also the regions experiencing the steepest increase in ocean warming. Undersaturation with respect to aragonite could begin in Arctic regions by the end of the 21st century. The only pelagic

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Project date

Starts
2008-05-01

Ends
2009-04-30

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Project Keywords

  • biosphere / ecological dynamics / ecosystem functions

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Summary

Increasing anthropogenic CO2-loads are reducing ocean pH-values and carbonate concentrations, with strongest effects in high-latitude surface waters, which are also the regions experiencing the steepest increase in ocean warming. Undersaturation with respect to aragonite could begin in Arctic regions by the end of the 21st century. The only pelagic aragonite-producers are shelled pteropods. Pteropods can dominate zooplankton communities with mass occurrences at times, are key species in the epipelagic food webs, and contribute significantly to the vertical flux of both organic matter and calcium carbonate to the deep sea. We hypothesize that ocean acidification and warming will have pronounced effects on the calcification and metabolism of pteropods and thus, also strongly impact the ecosystem level in high latitudes. We propose a multidisciplinary (ecology, physiology, biochemistry), experimental pteropod study on various potential effects. The overall aim of this project is firstly to study the interactive or synergistic effects of ocean acidification and rising water temperatures on a key element of polar epipelagic communities, the shelled pteropods (Limacina spp.). Systematic experimental studies on the calcification and other metabolic responses of pteropods to elevated pCO2 levels and rising temperatures have not been carried out as yet and are therefore urgently called for. One major challenge is rearing of these delicate pelagic animals, and therefore the main goal for the upcoming season is the establishment of an efficient rearing culture in order to set up experimental approaches with varying pCO2 and temperature. In the long term we want to answer the question about the ecological consequences of potential effects for different life-stages of the species and their role in the polar marine ecosystem. e.g. as consumer and/or prey for higher trophic levels.

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