Increased temperature mitigates the effects of ocean acidification in calcified green algae (Halimeda spp.)

The singular and interactive effects of ocean acidification and temperature on the physiology of calcified green algae (Halimeda incrassata, H. opuntia, and H. simulans) were investigated in a fully factorial, 4-week mesocosm experiment. Individual aquaria replicated treatment combinations of two pH levels (7.6 and 8.0) and two temperatures (28 and 31 °C). Rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification were measured for all species both prior to and after treatment exposure. Pre-treatment measurements revealed that H. incrassata displayed higher biomass-normalized rates of photosynthesis and calcification (by 55 and 81 %, respectively) relative to H. simulans and H. opuntia. Furthermore, prior to treatment exposure, photosynthesis was positively correlated to calcification, suggesting that the latter process may be controlled by photosynthetic activity in this group. After treatment exposure, net photosynthesis was unaltered by pH, yet significantly increased with elevated temperature by 58, 38, and 37 % for H. incrassata, H. simulans, and H. opuntia, respectively. Both pH and temperature influenced calcification, but in opposing directions. On average, calcification declined by 41 % in response to pH reduction, but increased by 49 % in response to elevated temperature. Within each pH treatment, elevated temperature increased calcification by 23 % (at pH 8.0) and 74 % (at pH 7.6). Interactions between pH, temperature, and/or species were not observed. This work demonstrates that, in contrast to prior studies, increased temperature may serve to enhance the metabolic performance (photosynthesis and calcification) of some marine calcifiers, despite elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. Thus, in certain cases, ocean warming may mitigate the negative effects of acidification.

Campbell J. E., Fisch J., Langdon C. & Paul V. J., 2016. Increased temperature mitigates the effects of ocean acidification in calcified green algae (Halimeda spp.). Coral Reefs 35(1):357–368. Article.

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