Coccolithophore community response along a natural CO2 gradient off Methana (SW Saronikos Gulf, Greece, NE Mediterranean)

A natural pH gradient caused by marine CO2 seeps off the Methana peninsula (Saronikos Gulf, eastern Peloponnese peninsula) was used as a natural laboratory to assess potential effects of ocean acidification on coccolithophores. Coccolithophore communities were therefore investigated in plankton samples collected during September 2011, September 2016 and March 2017. The recorded cell concentrations were up to ~50 x103 cells/l, with a high Shannon index of up to 2.8, along a pH gradient from 7.61 to 8.18, with values being occasionally <7. Numerous holococcolithophore species represented 60–90% of the surface water assemblages in most samples during September samplings. Emiliania huxleyi was present only in low relative abundances in September samples, but it dominated in March assemblages. Neither malformed nor corroded coccolithophores were documented. Changes in the community structure can possibly be related to increased temperatures, while the overall trend associates low pH values with high cell densities. Our preliminary results indicate that in long-termed acidified, warm and stratified conditions, the study of the total coccolithophore assemblage may prove useful to recognize the intercommunity variability, which favors the increment of lightly calcified species such as holococcolithophores.

Triantaphyllou M. V., Baumann K.-H., Karatsolis B.-T., Dimiza M. D., Psarra S., Skampa E., Patoucheas P., Vollmar N. M., Koukousioura O., Katsigera A., Krasakopoulou E. & Nomikou P., 2018. Coccolithophore community response along a natural CO2 gradient off Methana (SW Saronikos Gulf, Greece, NE Mediterranean). PLoS ONE 13(7): e0200012. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0200012. Article.

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