Decalcification and survival of benthic foraminifera under the combined impacts of varying pH and salinity

Highlights

  • Coastal ocean acidification did not enhance apparent test dissolution or affect survival in the short term of the benthic foraminifera species Ammonia sp. and Elphidium crispum.
  • Ωcalc <1 caused by low salinity decreases resistance to dissolution of the foraminifera.
  • The response of foraminifera to the combined impact of low pH and desalination was species-specific.
  • Living, decalcified juvenile specimens of Ammonia sp. were observed after one month at salinity 5.

Abstract

Coastal areas display natural large environmental variability such as frequent changes in salinity, pH, and carbonate chemistry. Anthropogenic impacts – especially ocean acidification – increase this variability, which may affect the living conditions of coastal species, particularly, calcifiers. We performed culture experiments on living benthic foraminifera to study the combined effects of lowered pH and salinity on the calcification abilities and survival of the coastal, calcitic species Ammonia sp. and Elphidium crispum. We found that in open ocean conditions (salinity ∼35) and lower pH than usual values for these species, the specimens displayed resistance to shell (test) dissolution for a longer time than in brackish conditions (salinity ∼5 to 20). However, the response was species specific as Ammonia sp. specimens survived longer than E. crispum specimens when placed in the same conditions of salinity and pH. Living, decalcified juveniles of Ammonia sp. were observed and we show that desalination is one cause for the decalcification. Finally, we highlight the ability of foraminifera to survive under Ωcalc < 1, and that high salinity and [Ca2+] as building blocks are crucial for the foraminiferal calcification process.

Charrieau L. M., Filipsson H. L., Nagai Y., Kawada S., Ljung K., Kritzberg E. & Toyofuku T., in press. Decalcification and survival of benthic foraminifera under the combined impacts of varying pH and salinity. Marine Environmental Research. Article (subscription required).

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