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Enhanced transfer of organic matter to higher trophic levels caused by ocean acidification and its implications for export production: A mass balance approach

Enhanced transfer of organic matter to higher trophic levels caused by ocean acidification and its implications for export production: A mass balance approach
Enhanced transfer of organic matter to higher trophic levels caused by ocean acidification and its implications for export production: A mass balance approach

Ongoing acidification of the ocean through uptake of anthropogenic CO2 is known to affect marine biota and ecosystems with largely unknown consequences for marine food webs. Changes in food web structure have the potential to alter trophic transfer, partitioning, and biogeochemical cycling of elements in the ocean. Here we investigated the impact of realistic end-of-the-century CO2 concentrations on the development and partitioning of the carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and silica pools in a coastal pelagic ecosystem (Gullmar Fjord, Sweden). We covered the entire winter-to-summer plankton succession (100 days) in two sets of five pelagic mesocosms, with one set being CO2 enriched (~760 μatm pCO2) and the other one left at ambient CO2 concentrations. Elemental mass balances were calculated and we highlight important challenges and uncertainties we have faced in the closed mesocosm system. Our key observations under high CO2 were: (1) A significantly amplified transfer of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus from primary producers to higher trophic levels, during times of regenerated primary production. (2) A prolonged retention of all three elements in the pelagic food web that significantly reduced nitrogen and phosphorus sedimentation by about 11 and 9%, respectively. (3) A positive trend in carbon fixation (relative to nitrogen) that appeared in the particulate matter pool as well as the downward particle flux. This excess carbon counteracted a potential reduction in carbon sedimentation that could have been expected from patterns of nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes. Our findings highlight the potential for ocean acidification to alter partitioning and cycling of carbon and nutrients in the surface ocean but also show that impacts are temporarily variable and likely depending upon the structure of the plankton food web.

1932-6203
Boxhammer, Tim
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Taucher, Jan
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Bach, Lennart T.
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Achterberg, Eric P.
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Algueró-Muñiz, María
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Bellworthy, Jessica
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Czerny, Jan
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Esposito, Mario
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Haunost, Mathias
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Hellemann, Dana
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Ludwig, Andrea
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Yong, Jaw C.
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Zark, Maren
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Riebesell, Ulf
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Anderson, Leif G.
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Boxhammer, Tim
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Taucher, Jan
ec76e5da-01e5-4ce7-ad11-f41ef8d1b7a4
Bach, Lennart T.
d1390da7-06d0-4e3f-998c-3b925c9a3a19
Achterberg, Eric P.
685ce961-8c45-4503-9f03-50f6561202b9
Algueró-Muñiz, María
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Bellworthy, Jessica
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Czerny, Jan
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Esposito, Mario
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Haunost, Mathias
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Hellemann, Dana
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Ludwig, Andrea
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Yong, Jaw C.
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Zark, Maren
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Riebesell, Ulf
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Anderson, Leif G.
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Boxhammer, Tim, Taucher, Jan, Bach, Lennart T., Achterberg, Eric P., Algueró-Muñiz, María, Bellworthy, Jessica, Czerny, Jan, Esposito, Mario, Haunost, Mathias, Hellemann, Dana, Ludwig, Andrea, Yong, Jaw C., Zark, Maren, Riebesell, Ulf and Anderson, Leif G. (2018) Enhanced transfer of organic matter to higher trophic levels caused by ocean acidification and its implications for export production: A mass balance approach. PLoS ONE, 13 (5). (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0197502).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Ongoing acidification of the ocean through uptake of anthropogenic CO2 is known to affect marine biota and ecosystems with largely unknown consequences for marine food webs. Changes in food web structure have the potential to alter trophic transfer, partitioning, and biogeochemical cycling of elements in the ocean. Here we investigated the impact of realistic end-of-the-century CO2 concentrations on the development and partitioning of the carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and silica pools in a coastal pelagic ecosystem (Gullmar Fjord, Sweden). We covered the entire winter-to-summer plankton succession (100 days) in two sets of five pelagic mesocosms, with one set being CO2 enriched (~760 μatm pCO2) and the other one left at ambient CO2 concentrations. Elemental mass balances were calculated and we highlight important challenges and uncertainties we have faced in the closed mesocosm system. Our key observations under high CO2 were: (1) A significantly amplified transfer of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus from primary producers to higher trophic levels, during times of regenerated primary production. (2) A prolonged retention of all three elements in the pelagic food web that significantly reduced nitrogen and phosphorus sedimentation by about 11 and 9%, respectively. (3) A positive trend in carbon fixation (relative to nitrogen) that appeared in the particulate matter pool as well as the downward particle flux. This excess carbon counteracted a potential reduction in carbon sedimentation that could have been expected from patterns of nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes. Our findings highlight the potential for ocean acidification to alter partitioning and cycling of carbon and nutrients in the surface ocean but also show that impacts are temporarily variable and likely depending upon the structure of the plankton food web.

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journal.pone.0197502 - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 3 May 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 25 May 2018

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Local EPrints ID: 421509
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/421509
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: c1a0f34b-061e-43cb-a61d-4e6e0794267f

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Date deposited: 14 Jun 2018 16:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 18:22

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Contributors

Author: Tim Boxhammer
Author: Jan Taucher
Author: Lennart T. Bach
Author: María Algueró-Muñiz
Author: Jessica Bellworthy
Author: Jan Czerny
Author: Mario Esposito
Author: Mathias Haunost
Author: Dana Hellemann
Author: Andrea Ludwig
Author: Jaw C. Yong
Author: Maren Zark
Author: Ulf Riebesell
Author: Leif G. Anderson

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