EFFECTS OF GLOBAL CHANGE ON ALGAL BIOMINERALIZATION AND BENTHIC COMMUNITY INTERACTIONS ON CALIFORNIA’S TEMPERATE ROCKY REEFS
Marine ecosystems are threatened by CO2-driven global change, such as ocean warming and acidification (OA). The primary objectives of this study were to: 1) assess the response of the coralline red alga, Calliarthron cheilosporioides, to global change; and 2) investigate the responses of California’s kelp forest communities to OA and sea urchin grazing. Results indicated that C. cheilosporioides growth and calcification were reduced under both increased temperatures and increased pCO2 despite increased photosynthetic rates in high pCO2 conditions. Mineralogy did not differ among treatments as a function of warming or acidification. Differences were observed in Mg incorporation into calcified walls of different cell types. Impacts of OA and sea urchin grazing on community structure differed in central and southern CA. In central CA, community structure, calcification and juvenile kelp density showed strong effects of grazing, but no effect of pCO2. Conversely, southern CA showed minor effects of grazing, but strong effects of pCO2 on community structure and calcification, with the strength of response depending on the initial assemblage. These findings suggest that some species of coralline algae may be negatively affected by increased pCO2 and temperature and that the emergent effects of ocean acidification may differ both within a reef as well as across broad spatial scales.