A new paper, written by Susan Kram and co-authors, was recently accepted for publication in the ICES Journal of Marine Science themed article set on Ocean Acidification. The paper, “Variable responses of temperate calcified and fleshy macroalgae to elevated pCO2 and warming,” describes the responses of six different locally abundant San Diego seaweeds to future ocean acidification and warming conditions.
The results of the paper provide additional support for the hypothesis that the responses of marine seaweeds to increased pCO2 will be species specific but in general more negative for calcifying versus fleshy individuals. We provide data on a small subset of the diverse assemblage of macroalgae common on temperate shores that contribute to the growing body of information on the likely future effects of ocean acidification. More information is still needed on the responses of species to more gradual and thus more realistic increases in pCO2 to allow for acclimatization or adaptation. Macroalgae are ecosystem engineers, providing habitat, refugia, and energy as a food source to countless organisms in coastal habitats. Understanding how climate change will affect them will give researchers a better idea of how coastal ecosystems may change in the coming centuries.
Funding was provided by California Sea Grant, NOAA, and the CSU Council for Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST). The results produced from this research was a collective effort of many individuals. The authors would particularly like to thank Samantha Clements, Molly Gleason, Elena Perez, Alex Neu and many more for their help collecting specimens, monitoring experiments as well as launching and breakdown experiments.
Jill’s new paper, written with Jen and Levi, came out recently in the Marine Ecology Progress Series. Their paper, Quantifying scales of spatial variability in algal turf assemblages on coral reefs, describes how turf algae on a coral reef are variable over very small scales. Turf algae are a group of small (~ 1 cm tall) algae that grow like a fuzzy shag carpet. They are a common part of every coral reef in the world, but most people study them as a single homogenous entity. Jill, Levi and Jen argue that we should instead treat turf like a diverse, heterogeneous assemblage. For example, they found that patches turf algae separated by only a few centimeters apart are very different!
Think of turf like a forest. Looking down at a forest from above, you could say that it is 100% tree. That might be true, but you would be missing a lot of the interesting ecological detail: What species of trees? How tall are they? Are the different species clumped together or randomly spread out? What kinds of animals live in the forest? We take that same view of turf algae by describing how turf species, height, and density vary across space.
Jill and Levi collected these turf algae samples at the Korallionlab in the Maldives (Read more about their Maldives research in Jill’s previous blog post and an article about their work in the Union-Tribune). This paper is one of the chapters of Jill’s dissertation, which is all about turf algae on coral reefs. Stay tuned to learn more about the ecologically important, but usually overlooked, turf algae!