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Type: Journal article
Title: Functional loss in herbivores drives runaway expansion of weedy algae in a near-future ocean
Author: Ferreira, C.
Nagelkerken, I.
Goldenberg, U.
Walden, G.
Leung, J.
Connell, S.
Citation: Science of the Total Environment, 2019; 695:133829-1-133829-8
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 0048-9697
Statement of
Camilo M. Ferreira, Ivan Nagelkerken, Silvan U. Goldenberg, Georgia Walden, Jonathan Y.S. Leung, Sean D. Connell
Abstract: The ability of a community to absorb environmental change without undergoing structural modification is a hallmark of ecological resistance. The recognition that species interactions can stabilize community processes has led to the idea that the effects of climate change may be less than what most considerations currently allow. We tested whether herbivory can compensate for the expansion of weedy algae triggered by CO₂ enrichment and warming. Using a six-month mesocosm experiment, we show that increasing per capita herbivory by gastropods absorbs the boosted effects of CO₂ enrichment on algal production in temperate systems of weak to moderate herbivory. However, under the combined effects of acidification and warming this compensatory effect was eroded by reducing the diversity, density and biomass of herbivores. This loss of functionality combined with boosted primary productivity drove a fourfold expansion of weedy algal species. Our results demonstrate capacity to buffer ecosystems against CO₂ enrichment, but loss of this capacity through ocean warming either in isolation or combined with CO₂, driving significant algal turf expansion. Identifying compensatory processes and the circumstances under which they prevail could potentially help manage the impacts of ocean warming and acidification, which are further amplified by local disturbances such as habitat loss and herbivore over-exploitation.
Keywords: Climate change; ocean acidification; warming; mesocosm; herbivory; compensation; turf algae
Rights: © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133829
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 4
Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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