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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Low irradiance amplifies negative effects of ocean acidification on recruitment of coralline algae communities

Anna Kluibenschedl*, Miles D. Lamare, Wendy A. Nelson, Neill G. Barr, Christopher D. Hepburn

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Coralline algae play foundational roles in coastal ecosystems and are globally significant components of benthic habitats down to the limits of the photic zone. Despite their vulnerability to ocean acidification (OA) and importance in low light environments, there is a limited understanding of how the interplay between irradiance and OA influences coralline reproduction and recruitment. To better understand this interaction, a 212-day experiment was run exposing coralline communities to two pH(T) levels (present-day pH(T) 8.07/ OA pH(T) 7.65) and a gradient of daily light dose (0.35, 0.17 and 0.1 mol m-2 d-1), based on in situ measurements. In the highest light dose treatment, lowered seawater pH projected for 2100 (pH(T) 7.65) reduced recruitment by 56%. This OA-driven reduction in recruitment was amplified under reduced light, with recruitment near zero in the lowest light treatment. This study shows, for the first time, the increased vulnerability of coralline community recruitment to OA under low light. Coralline algae are known to be the deepest growing macroalgae and thus, in these low light zones, OA many have the potential to reduce coralline depth distribution.