Decreased Diversity and Abundance of Marine Invertebrates at CO2 Seeps in Warm-Temperate Japan
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Japan has many coastal carbon dioxide seeps as it is one of the most volcanically active parts of the world. These shallow seeps do not have the spectacular aggregations of specialist fauna seen in deep-sea vent systems but they do have gradients in seawater carbonate chemistry that are useful as natural analogues of the effects of ocean acidification on marine biodiversity, ecosystem function and fisheries. Here, we compare macroinvertebrate diversity and abundance on rocky habitats at ambient (mean ≤ 410 µatm) and high (mean 971-1484 µatm) levels of seawater pCO2 in the warm-temperate region of Japan, avoiding areas with toxic sulphur or warm-water conditions. We show that although 70% of intertidal taxa and 40% of shallow subtidal taxa were able to tolerate the high CO2 conditions, there was a marked reduction in the abundance of corals, bivalves and gastropods in acidified conditions. A narrower range of filter feeders, grazers, detritivores, scavengers and carnivores were present at high CO2 resulting in a simplified coastal system that was unable to retain the high standing stocks of marine carbon biomass found in ambient conditions. It is clear that cuts in CO2 emissions would reduce the risks of climate change and ocean acidification impacts on marine biodiversity, shellfish production and biomass in the rocky coastal shores of this region.
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