Potential impact of carbonate chemistry change (pCO2) on krill and krill-based food chain in the Southern Ocean with emphasis on embryogenesis of Antarctic krill

In the Southern Ocean, it is still not certain that overall krill biomass may decline because of drastic increase in pCO2, and consequent decline in pH. However, there is evidence that ecological vacuums created by krill population collapses caused by ecosystem shifts in Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) region led to replacement of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba by soft-bodied salps Salpa thomsoni. There is yet another questionable hypothesis that by the end of 21st century, ocean acidification stress, coupled with thermal increase, may synergistically induce physiologically critical stress to Antarctic krill in some areas of the Southern Ocean, egg development of krill may drastically decrease and in the 23rd century krill may even become extinct. I have earlier reported on normal krill egg development in relation to thermal change and high pressure (George and Stromberg, 1985). Recent experiments on krill development under different pCO2 conditions by Kawaguchi et al. (2011, 2013) suggest that we may witness 20 to 70 % reduction in Antarctic Krill by 2100 as direct consequence of pH decline. Such a scenario may lead to demise of krill-eating top-predators like baleen whales, seals and different species of Antarctic penguin populations. We now know that Adelaide penguins are decreasing in Bransfield Strait region off of the Western Antarctic Peninsula but increasing in Ross Sea region. Such a shift in breeding colonies moving from northern to southern WAP region and Ross Sea areas is not attributed to any decline in krill biomass but recent decadal melting of sea-ice as documented by remote sensing (George and Hayden, 2017). In this paper the main focus revolves around implications of changing chemistry of the Southern Ocean caused by absorption of anthropogenic carbon dioxide.

George R. Y., 2017. Potential impact of carbonate chemistry change (pCO2) on krill and krill-based food chain in the Southern Ocean with emphasis on embryogenesis of Antarctic krill. Biogeosciences Discussions. Article.

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