Editorial: biological models for the study of ocean acidification: from molecules to ecosystems

Editorial on the Research Topic
Biological models for the study of ocean acidification: From molecules to ecosystems

The increase of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere is considered one of the main drivers of global climate change. Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations generate the ocean acidification phenomenon (OA), occurring at the global ocean scale (Vargas et al., 2022), which is posing a risk to ocean biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (Nagelkerken and Connell, 2015). For this reason, there has been an increase in research on OA and important conceptual and methodological efforts in the last decade, in order to better understand how organisms would cope with OA and to foster conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems in a high-pCO2/low pH scenario. Studies carried out under laboratory conditions have described detrimental effects due to OA across many taxa, highlighting strong species/population-specific sensitivity (Kroeker et al., 2010Asnicar et al., 2021). Although most of the research has been focused on short/middle-term laboratory/mesocosm experiments usually on single species or a single stage of their life cycle, they have proved useful to understand the physiological effects of OA and the plasticity of individual species/populations. On the other hand, lab simulation experiments do not allow comprehensive predictions of the effects on ecological processes. In this respect, studies carried out in naturally acidified systems (e.g., hydrothermal vent systems and ice melting fronts) help to fill this gap, highlighting the ability of some organisms to survive and thrive under high-pCO2/low pH conditions (Foo et al., 2018Palombo et al., 2023).

There is now mounting evidence that the response of organisms to OA is a complex puzzle of mechanisms and processes at different scales of biological organization, from genetic (Pespeni et al., 2013) and molecular modifications (Wäge et al., 2018) to ecophysiological performances (Calosi et al., 2013) and the biological traits of the organisms (Gambi et al., 2016), up to ecological interactions such as facilitation, competition (Kroeker et al., 2013Nagelkerken et al., 2017), and predatory/prey interactions (Ghedini and Connell, 2017), which are still largely unknown and mostly considered singularly.

In this view, the aim of the current topic was to collect papers that could help to identify model species to study the effects of OA on different biological hierarchical levels, from genes to populations, using different approaches in order to better predict how this phenomenon may influence population structure and species interactions, shaping marine communities in the future ocean of the Anthropocene.

The main outcomes of papers submitted to this Research Topic are:

Della Torre C., Gambi M. C., Freitas R. & Munari M., 2023. Editorial: biological models for the study of ocean acidification: from molecules to ecosystems. Frontiers in Marine Science 10: 1166708. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1166708. Article.

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