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Sensitivity of coccolithophores to carbonate chemistry and ocean acidification

TitleSensitivity of coccolithophores to carbonate chemistry and ocean acidification
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsBeaufort L, Probert I, de Garidel-Thoron T, Bendif EM, Ruiz-Pino D, Metzl N, Goyet C, Buchet N, Coupel P, Grelaud M, Rost B, Rickaby REM, de Vargas C
JournalNature
Volume476
Pagination80–83
Keywords2011, rcc, SBR$_\textrmP$hyto$_\textrmE$PPO, sbr?hyto?ppo
Abstract

Coccolithophores produce the major fraction of pelagic carbonate, a key component of the carbon cycle. The effect of elevated CO2 on their calcification is poorly understood. Culture experiments have yielded varied calcification responses to increased pCO2 between and within coccolithophore taxa. We used a novel automated method for pattern recognition and morphometric analysis to quantify the calcite mass of coccolithophores from ¿700 samples from present past (last 40-Kyr) oceans. Comparison of morphological data with ocean carbonate chemistry reconstructed in both space and time indicate decreasing calcification with increasing pCO2, and decreasing CO32. At pH ¡8.0, delicate Emiliania huxleyi are strongly affected by decalcification. However, highly calcified E. huxleyi morphotypes predominate in waters with lowest pH. This suggests that coccolithophore strains pre-adapted to future, more acidic oceans already populate regions of contemporary oceans. The future carbon feedback from coccolithophore calcification will depend on the genetic diversity and adaptability of coccolithophore populations.

DOI10.1038/nature10295