Novel microcosm system for investigating the effects of elevated carbon dioxide and temperature on intertidal organisms

In addition to the predicted rise in temperature, a recognised consequence of increased atmospheric CO2 is ocean acidification. The response of marine organisms to the stresses associated with acidification is still not understood, and a number of recent experiments have addressed this problem. The starting point for many of these studies has been the development of a system by which seawater pH can be altered and then maintained. The current paper presents details of a temperature- and pH-controlled microcosm system, which enables the establishment of a tidal regime, for the experimental investigation of intertidal organisms. Two climate scenarios were simulated to evaluate the system’s precision and accuracy; Year 2008 (‘low’ [CO2]: 380 ppm and 14°C) conditions and Year 2100 (‘high’ [CO2]) conditions (based on the IPCC—Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—2007 A2 scenario, ‘high’ [CO2]: 1250 ppm and 2.0 to 5.4°C warming). The temperature and seawater carbonate chemistry were reliably maintained for 30 d during which time newly settled barnacle cyprids were allowed to metamorphose into juveniles, then grow and develop. The pH and [CO2] had 95% confidence intervals of ±0.03 units and ±17 ppm, respectively, under low [CO2] conditions, and of ±0.02 units and ±43 ppm, respectively, under high [CO2] conditions. The tidal regime is fully adjustable, and on this occasion was set to a 6 h cycle. These microcosms have proved ideal for studying benthic organisms from a variety of near-surface environments and at different stages of their life-cycle.



Findlay H. S., Kendall M. A., Spicer J. I., Turley C., Widdicombe S., 2008. Novel microcosm system for investigating the effects of elevated carbon dioxide and temperature on intertidal organisms. Aquatic Biology 3: 51-62. Article.

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