Ocean acidification may induce toxic algal bloom and disrupt the pelagic food web

A field experiment led by a team of scientists from GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and others (Riebesell et al., 2018) showed that the toxic microalga Vicicitus globosus, known for its wide geographical distribution and confirmed role in fish kills, has an advantage under ocean acidification, increasing its abundance in natural plankton communities at CO2 levels higher than 600 µatm and developing blooms at 800 µatm. According to IPCC-AR5 CO2 emission representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario, this may occur as early as around 2060, thus posing an emergent threat to coastal communities, aquaculture and fisheries around the world. The field experiment also showed that the increasing abundance of Vicicitus globosus prevents the development of the micro- and mesozooplankton communities, thereby disrupting  the pelegic food web.

Riebesell, U., Aberle-Malzahn, N., Achterberg, E. P., Algueró-Muñiz, M., Alvarez-Fernandez, S., Arístegui, J., … & Haunost, M. (2018). Toxic algal bloom induced by ocean acidification disrupts the pelagic food web. Nature Climate Change, 8, 1082–1086.


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