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Acclimation of bloom‐forming and perennial seaweeds to elevated pCO2 conserved across levels of environmental complexity

Xu, Dong, Schaum, Charlotte‐Elisa, Lin, Fan, Sun, Ke, Munroe, James R., Zhang, Xiao W., Fan, Xiao, Teng, Lin H., Wang, Yi T., Zhuang, Zhi M., Ye, Naihao
Global change biology 2017 v.23 no.11 pp. 4828-4839
Ulva, acclimation, carbon, carbon dioxide enrichment, coastal water, eutrophication, life history, macroalgae, marine ecosystems, photosynthesis, primary productivity, tanks
Macroalgae contribute approximately 15% of the primary productivity in coastal marine ecosystems, fix up to 27.4 Tg of carbon per year, and provide important structural components for life in coastal waters. Despite this ecological and commercial importance, direct measurements and comparisons of the short‐term responses to elevated pCO₂ in seaweeds with different life‐history strategies are scarce. Here, we cultured several seaweed species (bloom forming/nonbloom forming/perennial/annual) in the laboratory, in tanks in an indoor mesocosm facility, and in coastal mesocosms under pCO₂ levels ranging from 400 to 2,000 μatm. We find that, across all scales of the experimental setup, ephemeral species of the genus Ulva increase their photosynthesis and growth rates in response to elevated pCO₂ the most, whereas longer‐lived perennial species show a smaller increase or a decrease. These differences in short‐term growth and photosynthesis rates are likely to give bloom‐forming green seaweeds a competitive advantage in mixed communities, and our results thus suggest that coastal seaweed assemblages in eutrophic waters may undergo an initial shift toward communities dominated by bloom‐forming, short‐lived seaweeds.