Is the chemical composition of biomass the agent by which ocean acidification influences on zooplankton ecology?

Climate change impacts prevail on marine pelagic systems and food webs, including zooplankton, the key link between primary producers and fish. Several metabolic, physiological, and ecological responses of zooplankton species and communities to global stressors have recently been tested, with an emerging field in assessing effects of combined climate-related factors. Yet, integrative studies are needed to understand how ocean acidification interacts with global warming, mediating zooplankton body chemistry and ecology. Here, we tested the combined effects of global warming and ocean acidification, predicted for the year 2100, on a community of calanoid copepods, a ubiquitously important mesozooplankton compartment. Warming combined with tested pCO2 increase affected metabolism, altered stable isotope composition and fatty acid contents, and reduced zooplankton fitness, leading to lower copepodite abundances and decreased body sizes, and ultimately reduced survival. These interactive effects of temperature and acidification indicate that metabolism-driven chemical responses may be the underlying correlates of ecological effects observed in zooplankton communities, and highlight the importance of testing combined stressors with a regression approach when identifying possible effects on higher trophic levels.

Garzke J., Sommer U. & Ismar S. M. H., in press. Is the chemical composition of biomass the agent by which ocean acidification influences on zooplankton ecology. Aquatic Sciences. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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