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Effects of elevated temperature and CO2 on intertidal microphytobenthos

Cartaxana, Paulo, Vieira, Sónia, Ribeiro, Lourenço, Rocha, Rui JM, Cruz, Sónia, Calado, Ricardo, da Silva, Jorge Marques
BMC ecology 2015 v.15 no.1 pp. 43
Gyrosigma, Navicula, Nitzschia, Thalassiosira, anthropogenic activities, biomass, carbon, carbon dioxide, climate change, ecosystem services, ecosystems, microalgae, photosynthesis, sediments, species diversity, temperature, trophic relationships
BACKGROUND: Microphytobenthos (MPB) are the main primary producers of many intertidal and shallow subtidal environments. Although these coastal ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic activities, little is known on the effects of climate change variables on the structure and productivity of MPB communities. In this study, the effects of elevated temperature and CO₂on intertidal MPB biomass, species composition and photosynthetic performance were studied using a flow-through experimental life support system. RESULTS: Elevated temperature had a detrimental effect on MPB biomass and photosynthetic performance under both control and elevated CO₂. Furthermore, elevated temperature led to an increase of cyanobacteria and a change in the relative abundance of major benthic diatom species present in the MPB community. The most abundant motile epipelic species Navicula spartinetensis and Gyrosigma acuminatum were in part replaced by tychoplanktonic species (Minidiscus chilensis and Thalassiosira cf. pseudonana) and the motile epipelic Nitzschia cf. aequorea and N. cf. aurariae. Elevated CO₂had a beneficial effect on MPB biomass, but only at the lower temperature. It is possible that elevated CO₂alleviated local depletion of dissolved inorganic carbon resulting from high cell abundance at the sediment photic layer. No significant effect of elevated CO₂was detected on the relative abundance of major groups of microalgae and benthic diatom species. CONCLUSIONS: The interactive effects of elevated temperature and CO₂may have an overall detrimental impact on the structure and productivity of intertidal MPB, and eventually in related ecosystem services.