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Nat Clim Chang. 2014 Jul 1;4(7):593-597.

Biomineralization control related to population density under ocean acidification.

Author information

1
Marine Science Group, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Section of Biology, Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Via F. Selmi 3, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
2
Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Section of Geology, Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Piazza di Porta S. Donato 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy.
3
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Viale Berti Pichat 6/2, 40127 Bologna, Italy.
4
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Viale Berti Pichat 6/2, 40127 Bologna, Italy ; Centro Enrico Fermi, Piazza del Viminale 1, 00184 Rome, Italy.
5
Department of Chemistry "G. Ciamician", Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, Via F. Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
6
The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, 52900 Ramat-Gan, Israel.
7
Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville 4810, Queensland, Australia.

Abstract

Anthropogenic CO2 is a major driver of current environmental change in most ecosystems1, and the related ocean acidification (OA) is threatening marine biota2. With increasing pCO2, calcification rates of several species decrease3, although cases of up-regulation are observed4. Here, we show that biological control over mineralization relates to species abundance along a natural pH gradient. As pCO2 increased, the mineralogy of a scleractinian coral (Balanophyllia europaea) and a mollusc (Vermetus triqueter) did not change. In contrast, two calcifying algae (Padina pavonica and Acetabularia acetabulum) reduced and changed mineralization with increasing pCO2, from aragonite to the less soluble calcium sulphates and whewellite, respectively. As pCO2 increased, the coral and mollusc abundance was severely reduced, with both species disappearing at pH < 7.8. Conversely, the two calcifying and a non-calcifying algae (Lobophora variegata) showed less severe or no reductions with increasing pCO2, and were all found at the lowest pH site. The mineralization response to decreasing pH suggests a link with the degree of control over the biomineralization process by the organism, as only species with lower control managed to thrive in the lowest pH.

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