If carbon dioxide emissions don’t decrease soon, the complex fabric of marine ecosystems will begin fraying — and eventually unravel completely, two new studies conclude, reports Janet Raloff at ScienceNews. As the acidity of ocean water increases in response to rising carbon dioxide levels, the diversity of ocean species decreases and any survivors’ health declines, said scientists from England and Florida recently to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. What’s more, affected species aren’t restricted to those with shells and calcified support structures — features particularly vulnerable to erosion by corrosive seawater. The Florida study found that coral larvae had difficulty developing because they could not access nutrients or find good spots to settle on. The second study looked at natural marine carbon dioxide seeps, whose acidity mimics levels predicted to occur from carbon emissions by 2100. Compared with nearby normal sites, the biodiversity was 30 percent lower, with no corals, sea urchins, and deposited fish eggs. At these acid levels, there were fewer algae, and seagrasses were eaten more because they stopped producing defensive chemicals. Thus, a more acid environment threatens all marine ecosystems.
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Carbon dioxide breaking down marine ecosystems. If carbon dioxide emissions don’t begin to decline soon, the complex fabric of marine ecosystems will begin fraying — and eventually unravel completely, two new studies conclude. Science News http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/338581/description/Carbon_dioxide_breaking_down_marine_ecosystems_