Ghost factors of laboratory carbonate chemistry are haunting our experiments

For many historical and contemporary experimental studies in marine biology, seawater carbonate chemistry remains a ghost factor, an uncontrolled, unmeasured, and often dynamic variable affecting experimental organisms or the treatments to which investigators subject them. We highlight how environmental variability, such as seasonal upwelling and biological respiration, drive variation in seawater carbonate chemistry that can influence laboratory experiments in unintended ways and introduce a signal consistent with ocean acidification. As the impacts of carbonate chemistry on biochemical pathways that underlie growth, development, reproduction, and behavior become better understood, the hidden effects of this previously overlooked variable need to be acknowledged. Here we bring this emerging challenge to the attention of the wider community of experimental biologists who rely on access to organisms and water from marine and estuarine laboratories and who may benefit from explicit considerations of a growing literature on the pervasive effects of aquatic carbonate chemistry changes.

Galloway A. W. E., von Dassow G., Schram J. B., Klinger T., Hill T. M., Lowe A. T., Chan F., Yoshioka R. M. & Kroeker K. J., in press. Ghost factors of laboratory carbonate chemistry are haunting our experiments. The Biological Bulletin. Article.

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