Calcifying species sensitivity distributions for ocean acidification

Increasing CO2 atmospheric levels lead to increasing ocean acidification, thereby enhancing calcium carbonate dissolution of calcifying species. We gathered peer-reviewed experimental data on the effects of acidified seawater on calcifying species growth, reproduction, and survival. The data were used to derive species-specific median effective concentrations, i.e. pH50, and pH10, via logistic regression. Subsequently, we developed species sensitivity distributions (SSDs) to assess the potentially affected fraction (PAF) of species exposed to pH declines. Effects on species growth were observed at higher pH than those on species reproduction (mean pH10 was 7.73 vs. 7.63 and mean pH50 was 7.28 vs. 7.11 for the two life processes, respectively) and the variability in the sensitivity of species increased with increasing number of species available for the PAF (pH50 standard deviation was 0.20, 0.21, and 0.33 for survival, reproduction, and growth, respectively). The SSDs were then applied to two climate change scenarios to estimate the increase in PAF (ΔPAF) by future ocean acidification. In a high CO2 emission scenario, ΔPAF was 3 to 10% (for pH50) and 21 to 32% (for pH10). In a low emission scenario, ΔPAF was 1 to 4% (for pH50) and 7 to 12% (for pH10). Our SSDs developed for the effect of decreasing ocean pH on calcifying marine species assemblages can also be used for comparison with other environmental stressors.

Bacchereti Azevedo L., De Schryver A., Hendriks A. J. Huijbregts M. A. J., in press. Calcifying species sensitivity distributions for ocean acidification. Environmental Science & Technology. Article (subscription required).

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