Ocean acidification in shallow water CO2 vents of the Azores: effects on macrobenthic assemblages

Concerns about the ecological consequences of Ocean Acidification (OA), caused by increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), have motivated an increasing research effort in recent years. Most of the observed effects of OA on marine organisms are from short-term laboratory-based experiments. The need to use different approaches, such as natural experiments in specific marine environments that are CO2-rich, has become apparent. Shallow water volcanic CO2 vents can be considered as natural analogues for ocean acidification. Studies in these habitats are producing significant advances, but only a handful of sites have been located worldwide (mainly in the Pacific and Mediterranean) that are suitable for use as timelines into the future. In this research line, soft sediment benthonic macrofauna assemblages were analyzed along a pH gradient, comprising two shallow CO2 venting sites in the Azores. Results show that the biggest differences are observed at a structural level, rather than a compositional one. Additionally, bivalves’ survival after settling seems to diminish as a direct consequence of CO2 increase. This approach provides valuable insights into the effects of elevated CO2 on central Atlantic ecosystems and contributes to assess the generality of the observed responses patterns, within and across regions.

Promotor(s) & Supervisor: Pedro Range, Luis Chicharo

ISCED Categories

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

0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology