Sensitivity of planktic foraminiferal test bulk density to ocean acidification

The anthropogenic CO2 accumulating in the ocean is lowering seawater carbonate ion concentration and may reduce calcification rates of marine calcareous organisms. Several proxies based on test weights of planktic foraminifera have been used to evaluate the impact of ocean acidification on these organisms. Unfortunately, because of the absence of a method to evaluate the bulk density of a test, the impact of seawater carbonate chemistry on test calcification is still not fully understood. In this study, we measured bulk densities of living Globigerina bulloides (planktic foraminifera) tests with an X-ray micro-computed tomography (XMCT) scanner and compared them with ambient seawater characteristics. Results demonstrated that test bulk densities were controlled by ambient seawater carbonate ion concentrations and that changes of test bulk densities were accompanied by changes in micron to submicron scale porosity of internal ultrastructure. These results suggest that alteration of the bulk density of foraminiferal tests due to acidification of ambient seawater can be directly observed by XMCT scanning. A useful metric of calcification intensity would therefore be physical measurements of test densities with XMCT.

Iwasaki S., Kimoto K., Sasaki O., Kano H. & Uchida H., 2019. Sensitivity of planktic foraminiferal test bulk density to ocean acidification. Scientific Reports 9: 9803. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-46041-x. Article.

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