The impact of ocean acidification on aquatic organisms

When carbon dioxide dissolves in oceans it forms carbonic acid which triggers chemical reactions that reduce the pH (increasing the acidity) while reducing the availability of buffers such as carbonates. Most water dwelling organisms particularly fish depend on their chemoreceptors to detect the odor of food, finding mates for reproduction, predators/ prey recognition, homing clues etc. When chemoreceptors are compromised due to ocean acidification the life of fish is disoriented and in chaos. The carbonates are not only acting as buffers in oceans, seas or rivers but are crucial in that many shellfish and corals need it to build their skeletons and shells. When the carbonate is less, organisms spend more time on shell building and less on eating and basic survival skills. This harm the organism and eventually reduces the entire population. The world’s oceans are warming up and becoming more acidic. Both stressors (ocean warming up and acidification), singly or in combination, impact marine species, in diverse ways and the effects might be particularly serious for early life stages of aquatic organisms. The paper reviews and addresses six spheres of ecological and ecosystem consequences of ocean acidification. The spheres are effects of acidification on i) Chemoreception, ii) Shells of organisms, iii) On coral reefs, iv) On algae, v) Invasive species and vi) Minute (unknown and may be less known) organisms.

Tembo R., 2017. The impact of ocean acidification on aquatic organisms. Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology 7:469. Article.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book