Drylie, T. P., Needham, H. R., Lohrer, A. M., Hartland, A., & Pilditch, C. A. (2019). Calcium carbonate alters the functional response of coastal sediments to eutrophication-induced acidification. Scientific Reports, 9. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48549-8
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Coastal ocean acidification research is dominated by laboratory-based studies that cannot necessarily predict real-world ecosystem response given its complexity. We enriched coastal sediments with increasing quantities of organic matter in the field to identify the effects of eutrophication-induced acidification on benthic structure and function, and assess whether biogenic calcium carbonate (CaCO₃) would alter the response. Along the eutrophication gradient we observed declines in macrofauna biodiversity and impaired benthic net primary productivity and sediment nutrient cycling. CaCO₃ addition did not alter the macrofauna community response, but significantly dampened negative effects on function (e.g. net autotrophy occurred at higher levels of organic matter enrichment in +CaCO₃ treatments than −CaCO₃ (1400 vs 950 g dw m⁻²)). By identifying the links between eutrophication, sediment biogeochemistry and benthic ecosystem structure and function in situ, our study represents a crucial step forward in understanding the ecological effects of coastal acidification and the role of biogenic CaCO₃ in moderating responses.
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