Biocalcification crisis in the continental shelf under ocean acidification


  • An eight months’ ocean acidification (OA) simulation experiment was conducted.
  • The ecological and biological responses of benthic foraminifera to OA was studied.
  • Benthic foraminifera in nearshore area had more resistance to OA than offshore one.
  • Thinner and smaller shells in calcareous foraminifera were produced under OA.
  • There will be a biocalcification crisis in continental shelf under future OA.


Ocean acidification (OA) is a persistent challenge for humans and is predicted to have deleterious effects on marine organisms, especially marine calcifiers such as coral and foraminifera. Benthic foraminifera is an important component of sediment in the continental shelf, while little is known about the impact of ocean acidification on benthic foraminifera both at the community and individual level and associated calcium carbonate deposition. We conducted eight months continued culture experiment under the scenario of 400, 800, 1200 and 1600 ppm pCO2 gradients on living benthic foraminifera from four stations in the continental shelf of the West Pacific Ocean. Statistic results showed OA had a negative effect on the abundance of benthic foraminifera. In contrast, the diversity increased roughly under OA conditions implying OA might stimulate the emergence of rare species and promote community diversity to some extent. In addition, we confirmed that the offshore area wasn’t the refuge for benthic foraminifera while the nearshore one had more resistance to moderate acidification. Calcareous species Protelphidium tuberculatum was the dominant species occupying on average 75% in all treatments and its shell diameter, weight and thickness showed a decrease, indicating the decrease of calcification of benthic foraminifera. A relationship between the weight of P. tuberculatum and pCO2 (R2 = 0.96) was established. Based on the present work, calcareous benthic foraminifera deposited 8.57×104 t calcium carbonate per year and this might reduce by nearly half and 90% under 800 and 1200 ppm scenarios, which indicates a biocalcification crisis under ongoing OA. This work shows an analogy for palaeoceanic OA and also provides new insights into the sediment of calcium carbonate in the future.

Dong S., Lei Y., Li T., Cao Y. & Xu K., 2023. Biocalcification crisis in the continental shelf under ocean acidification. Geoscience Frontiers: 101622. doi: 10.1016/j.gsf.2023.101622. Article.

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