Results of laboratory and field experiments of the direct effect of increasing CO2 on net primary production of macroalgal species in brackish-water ecosystems

Studies on the effects of increasing acidification on marine communities have been previously mostly carried out in truly marine areas whereas brackish-water ecosystems such as the Baltic Sea have been less studied. The current study analyses how acidification induced by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide affects the photosynthetic net production of different macroalgal species in the brackish Baltic Sea. Research methods include sets of laboratory and field experiments carried out in shallow coastal brackish waters. The aim of the laboratory experiments was to develop the necessary techniques and experience for the mesocosm experiments. Laboratory experiments were carried out using specimens of the red alga Furcellaria lumbricalis collected from Kakumäe Bay. The mesocosm experiments were conducted in Kõiguste Bay during the field season of 2011. Separate mesocosms were operated in each set with different CO2 concentrations and a control treatment in natural conditions. Field experiments were carried out with three species representing three different morphological and ecological groups: Ulva intestinalis, a fast-growing green alga; Fucus vesiculosus, a perennial brown alga with a slow metabolism; and Furcellaria lumbricalis, a perennial red alga. Photosynthetic activity was used as the response variable. In the laboratory decreasing pH increased the net primary production of F. lumbricalis with the lowest net primary production values measured at pH 8.0 and the highest at pH 6.5. Results of the field experiments indicated that increased CO2 levels in seawater favoured photosynthetic activity of the macroalgae U. intestinalis and F. lumbricalis, but F. vesiculosus showed no response to elevated CO2. Elevated CO2 levels are suggested to favour the production of fast-growing filamentous species, which thus may indirectly enhance the effect of eutrophication in the shallow coastal brackish waters.

Pajusalu L., Martin G., Põllumäe A. & Paalme T., 2013. Results of laboratory and field experiments of the direct effect of increasing CO2 on net primary production of macroalgal species in brackish-water ecosystems. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences 62 (2): 148–154. Article.


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