Some of the most progressive and interesting science happens when experts from different fields come together to tackle the same problem. Recently a group of plankton ecologists teamed up with some palaeontologists to assess how climate change impacts the growth of specific species of coccolithophores, both in modern times and during a period of warming 56 million years ago. They showed that two species of coccolithophore responded very differently to this event. Continue reading Using the past to predict the future of coccolithophores
Most of you reading this will be very familiar with the story of how ocean acidification is likely to impact marine calcifying organisms: increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is decreasing the pH of the oceans and is proposed to eventually lead to the dissolution of the shells of organisms made from calcium carbonate. It is difficult to work out in the lab, however, exactly what the impact of ocean acidification will be on marine calcifiers, as time pressures favour experiments that only assess short-term acclimation responses of organisms to ocean acidification (rather than long-term potential adaptations). Even when long term experiments have been carried out, they have only looked at the impact of pH change alone (see here), ignoring other relevent variables such as temperature. Continue reading Calcifying plankton and climate change
Whenever I look at the iconic White Cliffs of Dover I am reminded of an interesting fact: much of the south of England is made from plankton. Yes, the chalk (calcium carbonate) found here is predominantly composed of plankton – calcifying single-celled plankton to be precise– that sunk to the sea-floor tens of millions of years ago, was compressed to form chalk, and then uplifted into its present position. The two most abundant calcifying planktonic organisms forming this chalk are the coccolithophores, which form stunning blooms visible from space, and the foraminifera (‘forams’ to their friends). Continue reading Does phosphate thin foram shells?