High tolerance of protozooplankton to ocean acidification in an Arctic coastal plankton community

Impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine biota have been observed in a wide range of marine systems. We used a mesocosm approach to study the response of a high Arctic coastal protozooplankton (PZP in the following) community during the post-bloom period in the Kongsfjorden (Svalbard) to direct and indirect effects of high pCO2/low pH. We found almost no direct effects of OA on PZP composition and diversity. Both, the relative shares of ciliates and heterotrophic dinoflagellates as well as the taxonomic composition of protozoans remained unaffected by changes inpCO2/pH. The different pCO2 treatments did not have any effect on food availability and phytoplankton composition and thus no indirect effects e.g. on the total carrying capacity and phenology of PZP could be observed. Our data points at a high tolerance of this Arctic PZP community to changes in pCO2/pH. Future studies on the impact of OA on plankton communities should include PZP in order to test whether the observed low sensitivity of protozoans to OA is typical for coastal communities where changes in seawater pH occur frequently.

Aberle N., Schulz K. G., Stuhr A., Ludwig A. & Riebesell U., 2012. High tolerance of protozooplankton to ocean acidification in an Arctic coastal plankton community. Biogeosciences Discussions 9: 13031-13051. Article.


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