Patterns of magnesium content in Arctic bryozoan skeletons along a depth gradient

A growing body of evidence suggests that ocean acidification acting synergistically with ocean warming alters carbonate biomineralization in a variety of marine biota. Magnesium often substitutes for Ca in the calcite skeletons of marine invertebrates, increasing their solubility. The spatio-environmental distribution of Mg in marine invertebrates has seldom been studied, despite its importance for assessing vulnerabilities to ocean acidification. Because pH decreases with water depth, it is predicted that levels of Mg in calcite skeletons should also decrease to counteract dissolution. Such a pattern has been suggested by evidence from echinoderms. Data on magnesium content and depth in Arctic bryozoans (52 species, 103 individuals, 150 samples) are here used to test this prediction, aided by comparison with six conceptual models explaining all possible scenarios. Analyses were based on a uniform dataset spanning more than 200 m of coastal water depth. No significant relationship was found between depth and Mg content; indeed, the highest Mg content among the analyzed taxa (8.7 % mol MgCO3) was recorded from the deepest settings (>200 m). Our findings contrast with previously published results from echinoderms in which Mg was found to decrease with depth. The bryozoan results suggest that ocean acidification may have less impact on the studied bryozoans than is generally assumed. In the broad context, our study exemplifies quantitative testing of spatial patterns of skeletal geochemistry for predicting the biological effects of environmental change in the oceans.

Borszcz T., Kukliński P. & Taylor P. D., 2013. Patterns of magnesium content in Arctic bryozoan skeletons along a depth gradient. Polar Biology 36(2): 193-200. Article.


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