New study shows that appendicularian zooplankton thrive under warmer and more acidic ocean conditions and consequently alter carbon cycling

Oikopleura
Oikopleura dioica, animal and house. Source: Genoscope.cns.fr

This study provides to our knowledge the first experiment that contains multiple trophic levels and climate stressors (warming and ocean acidification) to investigate how gelatinous zooplankton (appendicularians) affect carbon cycling of marine food webs. Our novel results reveal that appendicularians thrive under climate warming and benefit from low pH levels, which alters the direction of carbon flow. An increase in the dominance of gelatinous zooplankton removes particles from the water column that might otherwise nourish copepods and fish by increasing carbon transport to depth. This helps to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but may also have significant fisheries implications.

Winder, M., Bouquet, J.-M., Rafael Bermúdez, J., Berger, S. A., Hansen, T., Brandes, J., Sazhin, A. F., Nejstgaard, J. C., Båmstedt, U., Jakobsen, H. H., Dutz, J., Frischer, M. E., Troedsson, C. and Thompson, E. M. (2017) Increased appendicularian zooplankton alter carbon cycling under warmer more acidified ocean conditions. Limnol. Oceanogr. doi:10.1002/lno.10516

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Mesocosm setup at the Marine Biology Station Espegrend,Bergen, Norway