Climate-driven changes in upwelling, ocean mixing, oxygen minimum zones, and nutrient cycling are likely to affect the year-to-year variation in ocean ecosystem processes. These changes will potentially impact marine life and the fundamental underpinnings of fisheries from shallow to deep-sea habitats. MBARI’s technical achievements and knowledge are transforming climate change research with novel methods and technologies.
Impacts of climate change on marine communities
A 10-week experiment conducted by MBARI researchers shed light on how entire marine communities, not just a single species, might be impacted by warmer water temperatures and an increasingly acidic ocean. Crabs, abalone, mussels, predatory snails, and seaweed were placed in special tanks that controlled temperature and levels of carbon dioxide to approximate future ocean conditions. The researchers observed changes in the performance of individual animals, such as reduced feeding or growth rates, but were also able to test how shifts in one species’ survival or behavior could have consequences for other species as well.
Results of the experiment were published in Marine Ecology Progress Series. The researchers concluded that for strongly linked species (e.g., predator-prey or competitors), the indirect effects of climate change may be powerful in shaping future marine communities.