Global alteration of ocean ecosystem functioning due to increasing human CO2 emissions
Rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions are anticipated to drive change to ocean ecosystems, but a conceptualization of biological change derived from quantitative analyses is lacking. Derived from multiple ecosystems and latitudes, our metaanalysis of 632 published experiments quantified the direction and magnitude of ecological change resulting from ocean acidification and warming to conceptualize broadly based change. Primary production by temperate noncalcifying plankton increases with elevated temperature and CO2, whereas tropical plankton decreases productivity because of acidification. Temperature increases consumption by and metabolic rates of herbivores, but this response does not translate into greater secondary production, which instead decreases with acidification in calcifying and noncalcifying species. This effect creates a mismatch with carnivores whose metabolic and foraging costs increase with temperature. Species diversity and abundances of tropical as well as temperate species decline with acidification, with shifts favoring novel community compositions dominated by noncalcifiers and microorganisms. Both warming and acidification instigate reduced calcification in tropical and temperate reef-building species. Acidification leads to a decline in dimethylsulfide production by ocean plankton, which as a climate gas, contributes to cloud formation and maintenance of the Earth’s heat budget. Analysis of responses in short- and long-term experiments and of studies at natural CO2 vents reveals little evidence of acclimation to acidification or temperature changes, except for microbes. This conceptualization of change across whole communities and their trophic linkages forecast a reduction in diversity and abundances of various key species that underpin current functioning of marine ecosystems.