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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-47
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-47
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 15 May 2019

Research article | 15 May 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

CO2 effects on diatoms: A Synthesis of more than a decade of ocean acidification experiments with natural communities

Lennart Bach1,2 and Jan Taucher1 Lennart Bach and Jan Taucher
  • 1Biological Oceanography, GEOMAR, Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany
  • 2Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Abstract. Diatoms account for 40 % of marine primary production and are considered to be key players in the biological carbon pump. Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to affect diatoms primarily by changing the availability of CO2 as a substrate for photosynthesis or through altered ecological interactions within the marine food web. Yet, there is little consensus how entire diatom communities will respond to increasing CO2. To address this question, we synthesized the literature from over a decade of OA-experiments with natural diatom communities to uncover: 1) if and how bulk diatom communities respond to elevated CO2; 2) if shifts within the diatom communities could be expected and how they are expressed with respect to taxonomic affiliation and size structure. We found that diatom communities responded to high CO2 in ~60 % of the experiments and in this case more often positively (56 %) than negatively (32 %; 12 % did not report the direction of change). Shifts among different diatom species were observed in 65 % of the experiments. Our synthesis supports the hypothesis that high CO2 particularly favors larger species as 12 out of 13 experiments which investigated cell size found a shift towards larger species. Unraveling winners and losers with respect to taxonomic affiliation was difficult due to a limited database, but there is evidence that the genus Pseudo-nitzschia could be among the losers. We conclude that OA-induced changes in diatom competitiveness and assemblage structure must be classified as a “risk for ecosystem services” due to the pivotal role diatoms play in trophic transfer and biogeochemical cycles.

Lennart Bach and Jan Taucher
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Lennart Bach and Jan Taucher
Lennart Bach and Jan Taucher
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Short summary
Diatoms are a group of phytoplankton species responsible for ~20% of primary production on Earth. Ocean acidification (OA) could influence diatoms but the key question is if they become more or less important within marine food webs. Here we synthesize OA experiments with natural communities and found: Diatoms are more likely to be positively than negatively affected by OA but there will be winners/losers within communities. This has important implications for the ecosystem services they provide
Diatoms are a group of phytoplankton species responsible for ~20% of primary production on...
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