Scientists show how carbon dioxide can change marine ecosystems

Scientists show how carbon dioxide can change marine ecosystems
Scientists show how carbon dioxide can change marine ecosystems

An international group of marine biologists analyzed animal communities near natural sources of carbon dioxide and found out how an increase in the concentration of this compound could affect marine communities. The researchers published their work in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Researchers from the Universities of Tsukuba, Palermo, and Plymouth have shown that marine environments change significantly when the concentration of CO2 dissolved in water is increased. Biologists analyzed flora and fauna near natural sources of this gas near the volcanic island of Shikinejima in Japan. They found that when the concentration of this gas increased, organisms such as complex corals and multicellular algae tended to disappear.

“We have shown that the changes in habitat and simplification of the food chain that we have observed along the volcanic gradient in the climate transition zone caused by the increase in carbon dioxide will affect many tropical species. Our data also suggest that predicted ocean acidity levels will hinder the spread of corals and reef fish closer to the poles in the near future due to global warming,”said Carlo Cattano, lead author of the study, at the University of Palermo.

The new work also confirms previous research on the effects of ocean acidity on ecosystems located within it. Scientists have now demonstrated that lowering the pH of seawater can impair calcification and accelerate dissolution of many calcifying agents, while increasing CO2 concentration can favor non-calcifying autotrophs that increase the primary production and rate of carbon fixation.

As a result, under conditions of increasing acidity, there will be losers and winners. Those animals that rely only on certain resources at different stages of their lives may disappear. This will lead to a change in the composition of fish communities in the near future with potential serious consequences for the functioning of marine ecosystems. Humanity will also lose, as it will lose a large amount of biomaterial, which was previously used for various purposes - from nutrition to the production of chemical compounds.

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