How oysters, mussels, and corals help marine vegetation buffer ocean acidification

 

Photo: Kristin Riser/Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

Ocean acidification is already threatening marine life around the world, and conditions are only expected to worsen in the coming years. But for certain shoreline environments, there may be a workaround. Researchers have discovered that marine vegetation such as seaweed and seagrass exert such a strong mitigating effect on local water acidification that they could alleviate some of the impacts on coastal ecosystems.

“What we found is that across a broad range of communities—from those that have sea anemones to those with tons of algae and shellfish—we still see the same pattern,” says Cascade Sorte, an ecologist at the University of California, Irvine, and lead author of the new report. “The more primary producers there are, the more amenable the pH conditions for shellfish and other species that are sensitive to ocean acidification.”

Most predictions about ocean acidification have focused on broad-scale impacts in open water. But coastal environments play by different chemical and biological rules than the open ocean, so findings from one system will not necessarily apply to the other.

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The Daily Catch, 20 February 2018. Article.

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