Intense pCO2 and [O2] oscillations in a mussel-seagrass habitat: implications for calcification

Numerous studies have been conducted on the effect of ocean acidification on calcifiers inhabiting nearshore benthic habitats, such as the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. The majority of these experiments was performed under stable CO2 partial pressure (pCO2), carbonate chemistry and oxygen (O2) levels, reflecting present or expected future open ocean conditions. Consequently, levels and variations occurring in coastal habitats, due to biotic and abiotic processes, were mostly neglected, even though these variations largely override global long-term trends. To highlight this hiatus and guide future research, state-of-the-art technologies were deployed to obtain high-resolution time series of pCO2 and [O2] on a mussel patch within a Zostera marina seagrass bed, in Kiel Bay (western Baltic Sea) in August and September 2013. Combining the in situ data with results of discrete sample measurements, a full seawater carbonate chemistry was derived using statistical models. An average pCO2 more than 50 % (~ 640 µatm) higher than current atmospheric levels was found right above the mussel patch. Diel amplitudes of pCO2 were large: 765 ± 310 (mean ± SD). Corrosive conditions for calcium carbonates (Ωarag and Ωcalc < 1) centered on sunrise were found, but the investigated habitat never experienced hypoxia throughout the study period. It is estimated that mussels experience conditions limiting calcification for 12–15 h per day, based on a regional calcium carbonate concentration physiological threshold. Our findings call for more extensive experiments on the impact of fluctuating corrosive conditions on mussels. We also stress the complexity of the interpretation of carbonate chemistry time series data in such dynamic coastal environments.

Saderne V., Fietzek P., Müller J. D., Körtzinger A. & Hiebenthal C., 2017. Intense pCO2 and [O2] oscillations in a mussel-seagrass habitat: implications for calcification. Biogeosciences Discussions. doi: 10.5194/bg-2017-351. Article.  

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