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Ocean acidification as a multiple driver: how interactions between changing seawater carbonate parameters affect marine life

Journal article
Authors Catriona L. Hurd
John Beardall
Steeve Comeau
Christopher E. Cornwall
Jonathan N. Havenhand
Philip L. Munday
Laura M. Parker
John A. Raven
Christina M. McGraw
Published in Marine and Freshwater Research
Volume 71
Issue 3
ISSN 1323-1650
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of marine sciences, Tjärnö Marine Laboratory
Language en
Keywords coccolithophores, coralline algae, corals, diatoms, fertilisation, fish, macroalgae, molluscs, seaweed
Subject categories Marine ecology


‘Multiple drivers’ (also termed ‘multiple stressors’) is the term used to describe the cumulative effects of multiple environmental factors on organisms or ecosystems. Here, we consider ocean acidification as a multiple driver because many inorganic carbon parameters are changing simultaneously, including total dissolved inorganic carbon, CO2, HCO3–, CO32–, H+ and CaCO3 saturation state. With the rapid expansion of ocean acidification research has come a greater understanding of the complexity and intricacies of how these simultaneous changes to the seawater carbonate system are affecting marine life. We start by clarifying key terms used by chemists and biologists to describe the changing seawater inorganic carbon system. Then, using key groups of non-calcifying (fish, seaweeds, diatoms) and calcifying (coralline algae, coccolithophores, corals, molluscs) organisms, we consider how various physiological processes are affected by different components of the carbonate system.

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