Biological impacts of enhanced alkalinity in Carcinus maenas

Further steps are needed to establish feasible alleviation strategies that are able to reduce the impacts of ocean acidification, whilst ensuring minimal biological side-effects in the process. Whilst there is a growing body of literature on the biological impacts of many other carbon dioxide reduction techniques, seemingly little is known about enhanced alkalinity. For this reason, we investigated the potential physiological impacts of using chemical sequestration as an alleviation strategy. In a controlled experiment, Carcinus maenas were acutely exposed to concentrations of Ca(OH)2 that would be required to reverse the decline in ocean surface pH and return it to pre-industrial levels. Acute exposure significantly affected all individuals’ acid–base balance resulting in slight respiratory alkalosis and hyperkalemia, which was strongest in mature females. Although the trigger for both of these responses is currently unclear, this study has shown that alkalinity addition does alter acid–base balance in this comparatively robust crustacean species.

Cripps G., Widdicombe S., Spicer J. I. & Findlay H. S., in press. Biological impacts of enhanced alkalinity in Carcinus maenas. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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