Can experimental studies on the impacts of ocean acidification be trusted? That question was raised in early 2020 when a high-profile paper failed to corroborate previously-observed impacts of high CO2 on the behavior of coral reef fish. New information on the methodologies used in the
replicated studies now provides the explanation: the experimental conditions were substantially different. High sensitivity to test conditions is characteristic of ocean acidification research; such response variability shows that effects are complex, interacting with many other factors. Open-minded assessment of all research results, both negative and positive, remains the best way to develop process-based understanding of those responses. Whilst replication studies can provide valuable insights and challenges, they can unfortunately also be counter-productive to scientific advancement if carried out in a spirit of confrontation rather than collaboration.
Williamson P., Pörtner H.-O., Widdicombe S. & Gattuso J.-P., in review. Ideas and perspectives: when ocean acidification experiments are not the same, reproducibility is not tested. Biogeosciences Discussions. Article.