Ocean acidification may increase calcification rates, but at a cost

Ocean acidification is the lowering of pH in the oceans as a result of increasing uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is entering the oceans at a greater rate than ever before, reducing the ocean’s natural buffering capacity and lowering pH. Previous work on the biological consequences of ocean acidification has suggested that calcification and metabolic processes are compromised in acidified seawater. By contrast, here we show, using the ophiuroid brittlestar Amphiura filiformis as a model calcifying organism, that some organisms can increase the rates of many of their biological processes (in this case, metabolism and the ability to calcify to compensate for increased seawater acidity). However, this upregulation of metabolism and calcification, potentially ameliorating some of the effects of increased acidity comes at a substantial cost (muscle wastage) and is therefore unlikely to be sustainable in the long term.
Wood, Hannah L., John I. Spicer, Stephen Widdicombe. in press. Ocean acidification may increase calcification rates, but at a cost. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Article.

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