Rhodoliths in Brazil: Current knowledge and potential impacts of climate change

Rhodolith beds are important marine benthic ecosystems, representing oases of high biodiversity among sedimentary seabed environments. They are found frequently and abundantly, acting as major carbonate ‘factories’ and playing a key role in the biogeochemical cycling of carbonates in the South Atlantic. Rhodoliths are under threat due to global change (mainly related to ocean acidification and global warming) and local stressors, such as fishing and coastal run-off. Here, we review different aspects of the biology of these organisms, highlighting the predicted effects of global change, considering the additional impact of local stressors. Ocean acidification (OA) represents a particular threat that can reduce calcification or even promote the decalcification of these bioengineers, thus increasing the eco-physiological imbalance between calcareous and fleshy algae. OA should be considered, but this together with extreme events such as heat waves and storms, as main stressors of these ecosystems at the present time, will worsen in the future, especially if possible interactions with local stressors like coastal pollution are taken into consideration. Thus, in Brazil there is a serious need for starting monitoring programs and promote innovative experimental infrastructure in order to improve our knowledge of these rich environments, optimize management efforts and enhance the needed conservation initiatives.

Antunes Horta P., Riul P., Amado Filho G. M., Gurgel C. F. D., Berchez F., de Castro Nunes J. M., Scherner F., Pereira S., Lotufo T., Peres L., Sissini M., de Oliveira Bastos E., Rosa J., Munoz P., Martins C., Gouvêa L., Carvalho V., Bergstrom E., Schubert N., Bahia R. G., Rodrigues A. C., Rörig L., Bonomi Barufi J. & Figueiredo M., 2016. Rhodoliths in Brazil: Current knowledge and potential impacts of climate change. Brazil Journal of Oceanography 64(2):117-136. Article.

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