Photosynthetic responses of turf‐forming red macroalgae to high CO2 conditions

Seaweeds are important components of near‐shore ecosystems as primary producers, foundation species, and biogeochemical engineers. Seaweed communities are likely to alter under predicted climate change scenarios. We tested the physiological responses of three perennial, turf‐building, intertidal rhodophytes, Mastocarpus stellatus, Osmundea pinnatifida, and the calcified Ellisolandia elongata, to elevated pCO2 over 6 weeks. Responses varied between these three species. E. elongata was strongly affected by high pCO2, whereas non‐calcified species were not. Elevated pCO2 did not induce consistent responses of photosynthesis and respiration across these three species. While baseline photophysiology differed significantly between species, we found few clear effects of elevated pCO2 on this aspect of macroalgal physiology. We found effects of within‐species variation in elevated pCO2 response in M. stellatus, but not in the other species. Overall, our data confirm the sensitivity of calcified macroalgae to elevated pCO2, but we found no evidence suggesting that elevated pCO2 conditions will have a strong positive or negative impact on photosynthetic parameters in non‐calcified macroalgae.

McCoy C. J., Santillán‐Sarmiento A., Brown M. T., Widdicombe S. & Wheeler G. L., in press. Photosynthetic responses of turf‐forming red macroalgae to high CO2 conditions. Journal of Phycology. Article (subscription required).

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