We are only just beginning to learn how aquatic organisms will respond to climate change, and the effect that this will have on their communities and ecosystems. One way to find out more is to look at whether species will be able to compensate for changes in their environment. Particularly if they can survive any immediate fluctuations in temperature, and reductions in ocean pH brought about by increasing levels of atmospheric CO₂.
Coastlines and estuaries are already challenging places for marine organisms to live. The physical properties of seawater – salinity, temperature, pH and oxygen levels – vary frequently. And with further environmental fluctuations due to climate change, they are becoming even more demanding. Patterns of sea surface salinity are changing, as fresh water input increases, due to exceptional storm events and runoff from flooding.
Scientists have started to examine the combined effects of global warming and a reduction in seawater pH – otherwise known as ocean acidification – on marine communities. To date, it has appeared that multiple factors have more of an effect on these creatures than each factor in isolation. Together they influence the ability of species to compensate and survive the changes.
However, not much is known about the combined effects of ocean acidification and seawater dilution on these organisms. This is important as changes in salinity tolerance are known to influence distribution patterns of marine species and their community structures.
Comparing the plight of crabs
For our newly published study we decided to look at […]