What meta-analysis can tell us about vulnerability of marine biodiversity to ocean acidification?

Ocean acidification has been proposed as a major threat for marine biodiversity. Hendriks et al. (2010) proposed an alternative view and suggested, based on a meta-analysis, that marine biota may be far more resistant to ocean acidification than hitherto believed. However, such a meta-analytical approach can mask more subtle features, for example differing sensitivities during the lifecycle of an organism. Using a similar metric on an echinoderm database, we show that key bottlenecks present in the life-cycle (e.g. larvae being more vulnerable than adults) and responsible for driving the whole species response may be hidden in a global meta-analysis. Our data illustrate that any ecological meta-analysis should be hypothesis driven, taking into account the complexity of biological systems, including all life-cycle stages and key biological processes. Available data allow us to conclude that near-future ocean acidification will have negative impact on marine species, including echinoderms, with likely consequences at the ecosystem level.

Dupont, S., Dorey, N., & Thorndyke, M., in press. What meta-analysis can tell us about vulnerability of marine biodiversity to ocean acidification? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2010.06.013. Article (subscription required).

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