The effect of ocean acidification on early algal colonization stages at natural CO2 vents

Marine algae exhibit different responses to ocean acidification, suggesting that a decrease in pH does not always favour marine photosynthetic organisms. In order to understand the effect of acidification on algal community development, early colonization stages were investigated using carbon dioxide vents around the Castello Aragonese (Ischia, Italy) as a natural laboratory. Settlement tiles were placed in zones with different pH (normal, medium and low), and species composition and coverage measured after 2, 3 and 4 months of deployment. The number of species decreased by 4 and 18 % at medium and low pH zones, respectively (P < 0.05). The structure of the algal assemblage differed between pH zones during the 4 months of the experiment, due to the addition and/or replacement of new species. This leads to a change in the succession of morphological forms as soft crustose algae replaced calcareous species, and turf species were dominant in cover; more complex thalli started to occur only at medium pH. These results support previous findings that ocean acidification will induce changes in benthic algal communities.

Porzio L. , Garrard S. L. & Buia M. C., in press. The effect of ocean acidification on early algal colonization stages at natural CO2 vents. Marine Biology. Article (subscription required).


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