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Proc Biol Sci. 2010 Aug 22;277(1693):2553-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0206. Epub 2010 Apr 14.

Elevated CO2 affects shell dissolution rate but not calcification rate in a marine snail.

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Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, Bamfield, British Columbia, Canada, V0R 1B0.


As CO(2) levels increase in the atmosphere, so too do they in the sea. Although direct effects of moderately elevated CO(2) in sea water may be of little consequence, indirect effects may be profound. For example, lowered pH and calcium carbonate saturation states may influence both deposition and dissolution rates of mineralized skeletons in many marine organisms. The relative impact of elevated CO(2) on deposition and dissolution rates are not known for many large-bodied organisms. We therefore tested the effects of increased CO(2) levels--those forecast to occur in roughly 100 and 200 years--on both shell deposition rate and shell dissolution rate in a rocky intertidal snail, Nucella lamellosa. Shell weight gain per day in live snails decreased linearly with increasing CO(2) levels. However, this trend was paralleled by shell weight loss per day in empty shells, suggesting that these declines in shell weight gain observed in live snails were due to increased dissolution of existing shell material, rather than reduced production of new shell material. Ocean acidification may therefore have a greater effect on shell dissolution than on shell deposition, at least in temperate marine molluscs.

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