Race against extinction

Are marine organisms able to adapt to ocean acidification?
An international group of researchers under leadership of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research demands a stronger consideration of evolutionary adaptations in predictive models. For shell-forming marine algae the scientists compared laboratory experiments with fossil collections. Coccolithophorids – unicellular planktonic algae of only a few thousandths of millimetres – developed malformations of their calcium carbonate skeleton when grown experimentally in seawater of varying acidity. In contrast, fossils of the same species dating back to periods of various carbon dioxide concentrations had intact skeletons. The researchers conclude that the organisms’ ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions is greater than previously acknowledged in prediction models.

Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, 19 September 2006 – Press release

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