Impacts of ocean acidification on key benthic ecosystems, communities, habitats, species and life cycles

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Ocean and Earth Science

Abstract

The average acidity (pH) of the world's oceans has been stable for the last 25 million years. However, the oceans are now absorbing so much man made CO2 from the atmosphere that measurable changes in seawater pH and carbonate chemistry can be seen. It is predicted that this could affect the basic biological functions of many marine organisms. This in turn could have implications for the survival of populations and communities, as well as the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem function. In the seas around the UK, the habitats that make up the seafloor, along with the animals associated with them, play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and productive marine ecosystem. This is important considering 40% of the world's population lives within 100 km of the coast and many of these people depend on coastal systems for food, economic prosperity and well-being. Given that coastal habitats also harbour incredibly high levels of biodiversity, any environmental change that affects these important ecosystems could have substantial environmental and economical impacts. During several recent international meetings scientific experts have concluded that new research is urgently needed. In particular we need long-term studies that determine: which organisms are likely to be tolerant to high CO2 and which are vulnerable; whether organisms will have time to adapt or acclimatise to this rapid environmental change; and how the interactions between individuals that determine ecosystem structure will be affected. This current lack of understanding is a major problem as ocean acidification is a rapidly evolving management issue and, with an insufficient knowledge base, policy makers and managers are struggling to formulate effective strategies to sustain and protect the marine environment in the face of ocean acidification. This consortium brings together 25 key researchers from 12 UK organisations to begin to provide the knowledge and understanding so desperately needed. These researchers share a unified vision to quantify, predict and communicate the impact of ocean acidification on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in coastal habitats. They will use laboratory experiments to determine the ways in which ocean acidification will change key physiological processes, organism behaviour, animal interactions, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The understanding gained will be used to build and run conceptual, statistical and numerical models which will predict the impact of future ocean pH scenarios on the biodiversity and function of coastal ecosystems. The consortium will also act as a focal point for UK ocean acidification research promoting communication between many different interested parties; UK and international scientists, policy makers, environmental managers, fisherman, conservationists, the media, students and the general public.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/H017445/1 01/07/2010 01/02/2012 £196,292
NE/H017445/2 Transfer NE/H017445/1 02/02/2012 01/07/2013 £60,587
 
Description Over the last decade, the impacts of warming and ocean acidification have received considerable attention, and there is clear consensus that these stressors will have far-reaching consequences for species and ecosystems. Much of the evidence, however, is based on short-term experiments that ignore long-term variation in how species and ecosystems respond. Using the longest study to date, we show that species can take much longer times to respond than previously thought and that the impact of these responses on important ecosystem properties varies with season. These findings suggest that the ecological consequences of climate change may diverge from present expectations.
Exploitation Route Potential relevance to mitigation of carbon storage by industry, and certainly relevant to licensing and environmental impact of same. Actual: I will be reporting this work to the Future Earth Regional Workshop, which is the main area for the European Consultation

http://wcrp.ipsl.jussieu.fr/future_earth/index.html
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment

URL http://www.benthic-acidification.org/
 
Description Yes. Publications cited in recent (2014) Update Report to the United Nations re ocean acidification.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description A legacy for experimental-model synthesis - maximising the benefit from UKOA.
Amount £62,234 (GBP)
Funding ID AVA 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2013 
End 03/2014
 
Description A legacy for experimental-model synthesis - maximising the benefit from UKOA.
Amount £62,234 (GBP)
Funding ID AVA 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2013 
End 03/2014
 
Description Scaling empirically derived ocean acidification responses to naturally assembled systems
Amount £90,846 (GBP)
Funding ID AVA 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2013 
End 02/2014
 
Description Scaling empirically derived ocean acidification responses to naturally assembled systems
Amount £90,846 (GBP)
Funding ID AVA 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2013 
End 02/2014
 
Description US-UK Ocean Acidification ? Ecosystems workshop 
Organisation Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution A joint workshop held in Monterey, California to shape future of ocean acidification science.
Start Year 2012
 
Description 11th Marine biology symposium of Ghent University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Solan was invited speaker, presented work on effects of benthic biodiversity loss in the presence of climatic forcing (incl. ocean acidification results).

Visit included networking with up and coming research students and advisory drop-in sessions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Ancient and Modern Biotic Crises 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Martin Solan gave keynote presentation for Thematic Symposium "Ancient and Modern Biotic Crises" at the 55th Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Plymouth University.

A gave the plenary talk on effects of biodiversity loss under environmental change
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Life in a High CO2 World" conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented invited talk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Planet under Pressure Conference "New Knowledge towards solutions" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presented invited poster and participated in UKOARP stand
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Radio 4 interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interviewed for Radio 4

Date not known, was in 2011 though.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description The effects of ocean acidification and temperature on the physiology and burrowing behaviour of two infaunal invertebrates 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited speaker to seminar series at the University of Sheffield

Gave plenary talk entitled "The effects of ocean acidification and temperature on the physiology and burrowing behaviour of two infaunal invertebrates" and participated in questions/answers sessions with research students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Total Foundation Port-Cros Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Plenary speaker at conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description UK Royal Society-Australian Academy of Science Frontiers of Marine Science Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Plenary speaker, talk included ocean acidification
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description US-UK Ocean Acidification - Ecosystems workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited participant in US-UK Ocean Acidification - Ecosystems workshop to provide forward thinking plan for ocean acidification research. attended by Godbold and Solan.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Martin Solan (Southampton) was the primary chair and organiser of the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity and Jasmin Godbold (Southampton) was a member of the scientific committee. As part of the conference, we held an international session on ocean acidification and climate change.

The conference has been established and will be repeated in China in September, 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2014