FISH
SHELLFISH
PLANKTON

 

Biological Response

NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program supports research that focuses on economically and ecologically important marine species. Research of survival, growth, and physiology of marine organisms can be used to explore how aquaculture, wild fisheries, and food webs may change as ocean chemistry changes.


FISHERIES SCIENCE CENTERS

A number of NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Science Centers have state-of-the-art experimental facilities to study the response of marine organisms to the chemistry conditions expected with ocean acidification.

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has facilities at its Sandy Hook, NJ and Milford, CT laboratories; the Alaska Fisheries Science Centers at its Newport, OR and Kodiak, AK laboratories; and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center at its Mukilteo and Manchester, WA laboratories. All facilities can tightly control carbon dioxide and temperature. The Northwest Fisheries Science Center can also control oxygen, and can create variable treatment conditions for carbon dioxide, temperature, and oxygen. These facilities include equipment for seawater carbon chemistry analysis, and all use standard operating procedures for analyzing carbonate chemistry to identify the treatment conditions used in experiments.

 


Corals

Both deep sea and shallow reef-building corals have calcium carbonate skeletons.  As our oceans become more acidic, carbonate ions, which are an important part of calcium carbonate structures, such as these coral skeletons, become relatively less abundant. Decreases in seawater carbonate ion concentration can make building and maintaining calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms such as coral.

 


Fish

Increased levels of carbon dioxide in our ocean can have a wide variety of impacts on fish, including altering behavior, otolith (a fish's ear bone) formation, and young fish's growth. Find out more about what scientists are learning about ocean acidification impacts on fish like rockfish, scup, summer flounder, and walleye pollock.


Shellfish

Shellfish, such as oyster, clams, crabs and scallop, provide food for marine life and for people, too. Shellfish make their shells or carapaces from calcium carbonate, which contains carbonate ion as a building block. The decreases in seawater carbonate ion concentration expected with ocean acidification can make building and maintaining calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms like shellfish. This may impact their survival, growth, and physiology, and, thus, the food webs and economies that depend on them.


Plankton

Plankton are tiny plants and animals that many marine organisms, ranging from salmon to whales, rely on for nutrition. Some plankton have calcium carbonate structures, which are built from carbonate ions. Carbonate ions become relatively less abundant as the oceans become more acidic. Decreases in seawater carbonate ions can make building and maintaining shells and other calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms such as plankton. Changes to the survival, growth, and physiology of plankton can have impacts throughout the food web.


OAP SUPPORTED BIOLOGICAL RESPONSE PROJECTS

Why I put a pteropod in a CT scanner to study the impacts of ocean acidification

Why I put a pteropod in a CT scanner to study the impacts of ocean acidification

Tuesday, March 13th, 3pm EDT (12pm PDT)

Author: Jennifer Mintz/Wednesday, February 28, 2018/Categories: education & outreach, SOARCE Archive

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Presented by: Rosie Oakes, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Tiny swimming snails, called pteropods, have delicate shells which make them vulnerable to changes in ocean chemistry. Their shells are made from aragonite, a more soluble form of calcium carbonate, which is predicted to be chemically unstable in some parts of the ocean by the middle of the century. Why have I spent the last 5 years studying them? Because these tiny organisms are key to understanding the big picture of ocean acidification – the more CO2 that we put into the air, the more CO2 is taken up by the ocean, and the harder it is for pteropods to build and maintain their shells. Pteropods also play a crucial role in the marine food chain, eating phytoplankton and small zooplankton, and being eaten by krill, sea birds, and fish. This means changes that impact pteropods have the potential to impact the whole ocean ecosystem.

The challenge of studying, and communicating information about pteropods is their size. They are about the size of grain of sugar. In this webinar, I’ll discuss how I used a micro CT scanner to image pteropods in 3D so I could measure their shell thickness and volume. I will then explain how I enlarge these 3D reconstructions to print them for educational purposes, and how you can do the same. Finally, I’ll introduce my new research direction, using museum collections of pteropods to decipher how they have been affected by ocean acidification since the industrial revolution.

Please email noaa.oceanacidification@noaa.gov to request access to the video recording and slides from this presentation.

About our speaker:  A geologist by training, Rosie stumbled into the wonderful world of pteropods after finding some shells in a sediment core she was working on during her Ph.D. Since then, Rosie has spent over 200 hours CT scanning pteropods and has used a variety of other imaging techniques to learn more about how these organisms may be affected by ocean acidification.

Rosie believes that it’s important to communicate science on all levels, and so in addition to travelling to international science conferences and publishing papers, she makes time to attend school science fairs and participate in outreach events (like this one!) in a hope to inspire the next generation of scientists. Originally from the UK, Rosie is currently living in Philadelphia and working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

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