Impact of dissolved CO2 on calcification in two large, benthic foraminiferal species

Rising atmospheric CO2 shifts the marine inorganic carbonate system and decreases seawater pH, a process often abbreviated to ‘ocean acidification’. Since acidification decreases the saturation state for crystalline calcium carbonate (e.g., calcite and aragonite), rising dissolved CO2 levels will either increase the energy demand for calcification or reduce the total amount of CaCO3 precipitated. Here we report growth of two large benthic photosymbiont-bearing foraminifera, Heterostegina depressa and Amphistegina lessonii, cultured at four different ocean acidification scenarios (400, 700, 1000 and 2200 ppm atmospheric pCO2). Using the alkalinity anomaly technique, we calculated the amount of calcium carbonate precipitated during the incubation and found that both species produced the most carbonate at intermediate CO2 levels. The chamber addition rates for each of the conditions were also determined and matched the changes in alkalinity. These results were complemented by micro-CT scanning of selected specimens to visualize the effect of CO2 on growth. The increased chamber addition rates at elevated CO2 concentrations suggest that both foraminifera species can take advantage of the increased availability of the inorganic carbon, despite a lower saturation state. This adds to the growing number of reports showing the variable response of foraminifera to elevated CO2 concentrations, which is likely a consequence of differences in calcification mechanisms.

Dämmer L. K., Ivkić A., de Nooijer L., Renema W., Webb A. E. & Reichart G.-J., 2023. Impact of dissolved CO2 on calcification in two large, benthic foraminiferal species. PLoS ONE 18(8): e0289122. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0289122. Article.

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