The impact of ocean acidification on the functional morphology of foraminifera

Culturing experiments were performed on sediment samples from the Ythan Estuary, N. E. Scotland, to assess the impacts of ocean acidification on test surface ornamentation in the benthic foraminifer Haynesina germanica. Specimens were cultured for 36 weeks at either 380, 750 or 1000 ppm atmospheric CO2. Analysis of the test surface using SEM imaging reveals sensitivity of functionally important ornamentation associated with feeding to changing seawater CO2 levels. Specimens incubated at high CO2 levels displayed evidence of shell dissolution, a significant reduction and deformation of ornamentation. It is clear that these calcifying organisms are likely to be vulnerable to ocean acidification. A reduction in functionally important ornamentation could lead to a reduction in feeding efficiency with consequent impacts on this organism’s survival and fitness.

Khanna N., Godbold J. A., Austin W. E. N. & Paterson D. M., 2013. The impact of ocean acidification on the functional morphology of foraminifera. PLoS ONE 8(12): e83118. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083118. Article.

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