Ocean Acidification: a Meiofaunal Perspective

The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have kept on rising since the mid-1800s and have never been so high before. The high CO2 levels have recently been linked to ocean acidification, which has profound impacts on biogeochemical processes and marine biodiversity. This research assessed the long-term effects of ocean acidification at the volcanic CO2-seeps in Papua New Guinea. These seeps are ideal for this study due to their chemical characteristics and the time scale of their ongoing CO2-gas outbursts. Meiofauna communities were used, as they are good indicators for ecosystem changes. Their density, diversity and biomass were assessed and all found to be significantly lower at the CO2-seepage site. Moreover, there was a notable shift in dominant taxa and species from the control to the seep site. These observed effects might be caused by the pH reduction near the seep site. The acidified seawater can lead to the interruption of physiological processes, causing changes in survival, growth, activity and reproduction rates of organisms. However, it cannot be proven that the observed effect is exclusively caused by ocean acidification, as other environmental stressors might have synergistic, antagonistic or additive effects. Additionally, there might be a physical environmental impact on the meiofauna by a shift in grain size distribution. Nevertheless, it can be concluded that the seep environment in Papua New Guinea affects the benthic environment and the inhabiting meiofauna and nematode communities.

ISCED Categories

The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology