Foraminiferal assemblages and test characteristics associated with natural low pH waters at Puerto Morelos reef lagoon springs, QR Mexico

Ocean acidification is expected to negatively affect many ecologically important organisms. Here we explored the response of Caribbean benthic foraminiferal assemblages to naturally discharging low-pH waters similar to expected future projections for the end of the 21st century. At low pH (~7.7 pH units) and low calcite saturation, agglutinated and symbiont-bearing species were relatively more abundant, indicating higher resistance to potential carbonate chemistry changes. Diversity and other taxonomical metrics declined steeply with decreasing pH, despite exposure of this ecosystem for millennia to low pH conditions, suggesting that tropical foraminifera communities will be negatively impacted under acidification scenarios SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5. The species Archaias angulatus, a major contributor to sediment production in the Caribbean, was able to calcify at conditions more extreme than those projected for the late 21st century (7.1 pH units), but the calcified tests were of lower density than those exposed to higher-pH ambient conditions (7.96 pH units), indicating that reef foraminiferal carbonate budget might decrease. Smaller foraminifera were highly sensitive to decreasing pH and our results demonstrate their potential as indicators to monitor increasing OA conditions.

Do Nascimento Silva D. F., 2022. Foraminiferal assemblages and test characteristics associated with natural low pH waters at Puerto Morelos reef lagoon springs, QR Mexico. MSc thesis, Universidade Federal Fluminense, 59 p. Thesis.


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