Experts Highlight Need to Consider Environmental Variation in Ocean Acidification Studies

Experts Highlight Need to Consider Environmental Variation in Ocean Acidification Studies



In a recent study, Dupont worked with marine scientists from Chile, China and Sweden to analyze existing data available through the OA-ICC databases. The results of the analysis, which examined the effects of pH on biological traits – ingestion, respiration, growth, etc. – of coastal invertebrates, including crustaceans, corals and sea urchins, were published in the journal NatureClimate Change in February. “By conducting a global analysis, we have found that more than half of the selected studies may have underestimated the local impacts of future ocean acidification by exposing organisms to conditions that those organisms already experience in their geogrhic areas,” explained Cristian Vargas, lead author of the study and Professor at University of Concepcion, Chile. Vargas concluded that the impact of ocean acidification has been miscalculated because of the lack of information related to organisms’ habitats.

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In a recent study, Dupont worked with marine scientists from Chile, China and Sweden to analyze existing data available through the OA-ICC databases. The results of the analysis, which examined the effects of pH on biological traits – ingestion, respiration, growth, etc. – of coastal invertebrates, including crustaceans, corals and sea urchins, were published in the journal NatureClimate Change in February. “By conducting a global analysis, we have found that more than half of the selected studies may have underestimated the local impacts of future ocean acidification by exposing organisms to conditions that those organisms already experience in their geogrhic areas,” explained Cristian Vargas, lead author of the study and Professor at University of Concepcion, Chile. Vargas concluded that the impact of ocean acidification has been miscalculated because of the lack of information related to organisms’ habitats.

The international team reviewed 380 publications before analyzing results of 86 independent ocean acidification studies that covered nine coastal regions. The latest study is a follow up to a concept published in 2017 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolutionwhich proposed an index to take into account the variability of environmental conditions to better understand the consequences of ocean acidification on species inhabiting in different ecosystems.

The study also demonstrated the potential to produce new knowledge from resources already available. “When the pandemic hit, the experiment shifted to rely on available data,” Dupont said. In 2020, the original plan was to collect mussels of the same species from around the world and expose them to a range of different pH levels to study the sensitivities of marine species. “But without being able to travel, we had no way to conduct those experiments,” Dupont said. Instead, the researchers relied on existing data and literature to assess the validity of the concept they theorized in 2017, which proved to be reinforced by the data.

“The index we created allows us to better project what is going to hpen in the future to marine organisms,” Dupont said. The same research methodology will be plied to study further effects of ocean acidification on other species.

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