Combined effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on biomass and carbon fixation of phytoplankton assemblages in the northern South China Sea

The individual influences of ocean warming and acidification on marine organisms have been investigated intensively, but studies regarding the combined effects of both global change variables on natural marine phytoplankton assemblages are still scarce. Even fewer studies have addressed possible differences in the responses of phytoplankton communities in pelagic and coastal zones to ocean warming and acidification. We conducted shipboard microcosm experiments at both off-shore (SEATS) and near-shore (D001) stations in the northern South China Sea (NSCS) under three treatments, low temperature (30.5 °C at SEATS and 28.5 °C at D001) and low pCO2 (390.0 µatm at SEATS and 420.0 µatm at D001) (LTLC), high temperature (33.5 °C at SEATS and 31.5 °C at D001) and low pCO2 (390 µatm at SEATS and 420 µatm at D001) (HTLC), and high temperature (33.5 °C at SEATS and 31.5 °C at D001) and high pCO2 (1000 µatm at SEATS and 1030 µatm at D001) (HTHC). Biomass of phytoplankton at both stations were enhanced by HT. HTHC did not affect phytoplankton biomass at station D001 but decreased it at station SEATS. At this offshore station HT alone increased daily primary productivity (DPP, µgC (µg chl a)−1 d−1) by ~ 64 %, and by ~ 117 % when higher pCO2 was added. In contrast, HT alone did not affect DPP and HTHC reduced it by ~ 15 % at station D001. HT enhanced the dark respiration rate (µg C (µg chl a)-1 d−1) by 64 % at station SEATS, but had no significant effect at station D001, and did not change the ratio of respiration to photosynthesis at either station. HTHC did not affect dark respiration rate (µg C (µg chl a)−1 d−1) at either station compared to LTLC. HTHC reduced the respiration to photosynthesis ratio by ~ 41 % at station SEATS but increased it ~ 42 % at station D001. Overall, our findings indicate that responses of coastal and offshore phytoplankton assemblages in NSCS to ocean warming and acidification are contrasting, with the pelagic phytoplankton communities being more sensitive to these two global change factors.

Gao G., Jin P., Liu N., Li F., Tong S., Hutchins D. A. & Gao K., 2016. Combined effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on biomass and carbon fixation of phytoplankton assemblages in the northern South China Sea. Biogeosciences Discussions 1-29. Article.

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