Exploring local adaptation and the ocean acidification seascape – studies in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem

The California Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME), a temperate marine region dominated by episodic upwelling, is predicted to experience rapid environmental change in the future due to ocean acidification. Aragonite saturation state within the California Current System is predicted to decrease in the future, with near-permanent undersaturation conditions expected by the year 2050. Thus, the CCLME is a critical region to study due to the rapid rate of environmental change that resident organisms will experience and because of the economic and societal value of this coastal region. Recent efforts by a research consortium – the Ocean Margin Ecosystems Group for Acidification Studies (OMEGAS) – has begun to characterize a portion of the CCLME; both describing the mosaic of pH in coastal waters and examining the responses of key calcification-dependent benthic marine organisms to natural variation in pH and to changes in carbonate chemistry that are expected in the coming decades. In this review, we present the OMEGAS strategy of co-locating sensors and oceanographic observations with biological studies on benthic marine invertebrates, specifically measurements of functional traits such as calcification-related processes and genetic variation in populations that are locally adapted to conditions in a particular region of the coast. Highlighted in this contribution are (1) the OMEGAS sensor network that spans the west coast of the US from central Oregon to southern California, (2) initial findings of the carbonate chemistry amongst the OMEGAS study sites, (3) an overview of the biological data that describes the acclimatization and the adaptation capacity of key benthic marine invertebrates within the CCLME.

Hofmann G. E., Evans T. G., Kelly M. W., Padilla-Gamiño J. L., Blanchette C. A., Washburn L., Chan F., McManus M. A., Menge B. A., Gaylord B., Hill T. M., Sanford E., LaVigne M., Rose J. M., Kapsenberg L. & Dutton J. M., 2013. Exploring local adaptation and the ocean acidification seascape – studies in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Biogeosciences Discussions 10: 11825-11856. Article.

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