Recommended priorities for research on ecological impacts of ocean and coastal acidification in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic

The estuaries and continental shelf system of the United States Mid-Atlantic are subject to ocean acidification driven by atmospheric CO2, and coastal acidification caused by nearshore and land-sea interactions that include biological, chemical, and physical processes. These processes include freshwater and nutrient input from rivers and groundwater; tidally-driven outwelling of nutrients, inorganic carbon, alkalinity; high productivity and respiration; and hypoxia. Hence, these complex dynamic systems exhibit substantial daily, seasonal, and interannual variability that is not well captured by current acidification research on Mid-Atlantic organisms and ecosystems. We present recommendations for research priorities that target better understanding of the ecological impacts of acidification in the U. S. Mid-Atlantic region. Suggested priorities are: 1) Determining the impact of multiple stressors on our resource species as well as the magnitude of acidification; 2) Filling information gaps on major taxa and regionally important species in different life stages to improve understanding of their response to variable temporal scales and sources of acidification; 3) Improving experimental approaches to incorporate realistic environmental variability and gradients, include interactions with other environmental stressors, increase transferability to other systems or organisms, and evaluate community and ecosystem response; 4) Determining the capacity of important species to acclimate or adapt to changing ocean conditions; 5) Considering multi-disciplinary, ecosystem-level research that examines acidification impacts on biodiversity and biotic interactions; and 6) Connecting potential acidification-induced ecological impacts to ecosystem services and the economy. These recommendations, while developed for the Mid-Atlantic, can be applicable to other regions will help align research towards knowledge of potential larger-scale ecological and economic impacts.

Saba G. K., Goldsmith K. A., Cooley S. R., Grosse D., Mesecke S. L., Miller A. W., Phelan B., Poach M., Rheault R., St. Laurent K., Testa J. M., Weis J. S. & Zimmerman R., 2019. Recommended priorities for research on ecological impacts of ocean and coastal acidification in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 225: 106188. doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2019.04.022. Article.

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