The proposed research seeks to characterise how biodiversity and ecosystem-functioning of whole communities will be altered by ocean acidification. In the early stages of community succession (after 2, 4 and 9 months) we found that recruitment greatly differed between the reference sites, where a highly diverse macroalgae community developed, and the elevated-CO2 site where communities were locked in degraded early successional stages. This community shift was accompanied by reduced rates of gross primary production and calcification in comparison to the reference site. The same patterns persisted into the later stages of succession (18 and 24 months), with the communities showing a major divergence between the sites, and community production beginning to show a greater difference (reference-CO2 sites showed enhanced gross primary production). Overall, this suggests that community development during ocean acidification may be slowed, requiring more time to reach their climax communities, with the suggestion that they won’t provide the same ecosystem functions as present-day communities.
In order to acquire a more comprehensive assessment of the changes in biodiversity over time, the DNA sequenced for the community meta-barcoding will be used to characterise the entire communities. As well as ascertaining whether biodiversity patterns are similar between micro- and macro-organisms, the findings will help improve our understanding and elucidate the patterns that are responsible for driving reduced biodiversity and abundance.
All aspects of the experiment have been completed, however, the sequencing for 16S has not yet been completed. The DNA samples required for this have already been extracted and checked, but could be not invoiced for sequencing within the academic year (FY 2019-2020). Therefore, this will be completed within the current academic year (FY 2020-2021). Following this, the only remaining task is the analysis and publication writing.