The combined effects of ocean acidification and heavy metals on marine organisms: a meta-analysis

Ocean acidification (OA) may interact with anthropogenic pollutants, such as heavy metals (HM), to represent a threat to marine organisms and ecosystems. Here, we perform a quantitative meta-analysis to examine the combined effects of OA and heavy metals on marine organisms. The results reveal predominantly additive interactions (67%), with a considerable proportion of synergistic interactions (25%) and a few antagonistic interactions (8%). The overall adverse effects of heavy metals on marine organisms were alleviated by OA, leading to a neutral impact of heavy metals in combination with OA. However, different taxonomic groups showed large variabilities in their responses, with microalgae being the most sensitive when exposed to heavy metals and OA, and having the highest proportion of antagonistic interactions. Furthermore, the variations in interaction type frequencies are related to climate regions and heavy metal properties, with antagonistic interactions accounting for the highest proportion in temperate regions (28%) and when exposed to Zn (52%). Our study provides a comprehensive insight into the interactive effects of OA and HM on marine organisms, and highlights the importance of further investigating the responses of different marine taxonomic groups from various geographic locations to the combined stress of OA and HM.


Jin P., Zhang J., Wan J., Overmans S., Gao G., Ye M., Dai X., Zhao J., Xiao M. & Xia J., 2021. The combined effects of ocean acidification and heavy metals on marine organisms: a meta-analysis. Frontiers in Marine Science 8: 801889. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.801889. Article.

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