MEPS 520:21-34 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11123

Effect of acidification on an Arctic phytoplankton community from Disko Bay, West Greenland

Christina Thoisen1,2,*, Karen Riisgaard3, Nina Lundholm4, Torkel Gissel Nielsen3,5, Per Juel Hansen2

1Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Universitetsvej 1, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
2Centre for Ocean Life, Marine Biological Section, University of Copenhagen, Strandpromenaden 5, 3000 Helsingør, Denmark
3National Institute of Aquatic Resources, DTU Aqua, Section for Ocean Ecology and Climate, Technical University of Denmark, Kavalergården 6, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark
4Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Sølvgade 83S, 1307 Copenhagen K, Denmark
5Greenland Climate Research Centre, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Kivioq 2, PO Box 570, 3900 Nuuk, Greenland
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Long-term measurements (i.e. months) of in situ pH have not previously been reported from the Arctic; this study shows fluctuations between pH 7.5 and 8.3 during the spring bloom 2012 in a coastal area of Disko Bay, West Greenland. The effect of acidification on phytoplankton from this area was studied at both the community and species level in experimental pH treatments within (pH 8.0, 7.7 and 7.4) and outside (pH 7.1) in situ pH. The growth rate of the phytoplankton community decreased during the experimental acidification from 0.50 ± 0.01 d-1 (SD) at pH 8.0 to 0.22 ± 0.01 d-1 at pH 7.1. Nevertheless, the response to acidification was species-specific and divided into 4 categories: I, least affected; II, affected only at pH 7.1; III, gradually affected and IV, highly affected. In addition, the colony size and chain length of selected species were affected by the acidification. Our findings show that coastal phytoplankton from Disko Bay is naturally exposed to pH fluctuations exceeding the experimental pH range used in most ocean acidification studies. We emphasize that studies on ocean acidification should include in situ pH before assumptions on the effect of acidification on marine organisms can be made.


KEY WORDS: Ocean acidification · Coastal · Arctic phytoplankton · Growth rate · pH · CO2 · DIC


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Cite this article as: Thoisen C, Riisgaard K, Lundholm N, Nielsen TG, Hansen PJ (2015) Effect of acidification on an Arctic phytoplankton community from Disko Bay, West Greenland. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 520:21-34. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11123

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