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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 30;108(35):14515-20. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1107789108. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Divergent ecosystem responses within a benthic marine community to ocean acidification.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, Stanford University, Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, USA. kkroeker@stanford.edu

Abstract

Ocean acidification is predicted to impact all areas of the oceans and affect a diversity of marine organisms. However, the diversity of responses among species prevents clear predictions about the impact of acidification at the ecosystem level. Here, we used shallow water CO(2) vents in the Mediterranean Sea as a model system to examine emergent ecosystem responses to ocean acidification in rocky reef communities. We assessed in situ benthic invertebrate communities in three distinct pH zones (ambient, low, and extreme low), which differed in both the mean and variability of seawater pH along a continuous gradient. We found fewer taxa, reduced taxonomic evenness, and lower biomass in the extreme low pH zones. However, the number of individuals did not differ among pH zones, suggesting that there is density compensation through population blooms of small acidification-tolerant taxa. Furthermore, the trophic structure of the invertebrate community shifted to fewer trophic groups and dominance by generalists in extreme low pH, suggesting that there may be a simplification of food webs with ocean acidification. Despite high variation in individual species' responses, our findings indicate that ocean acidification decreases the diversity, biomass, and trophic complexity of benthic marine communities. These results suggest that a loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function is expected under extreme acidification scenarios.

PMID:
21844331
PMCID:
PMC3167536
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1107789108
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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