Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

URI Chemical Oceanographer Analyzes the Effects of pH on Coastal Marine Phytoplankton

07.02.2003


A largely overlooked but significant factor in marine ecology concerns the effects of variable pH on the growth rate and abundance of coastal marine phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain in productive coastal waters. The pH of the open ocean varies very little. This has led to the common, but faulty, assumption that the pH of coastal waters also varies little and is unimportant.



In an article in a recent issue of the scientific journal Marine Ecology Progress Series, URI Graduate School of Oceanography marine scientist Dr. Kenneth Hinga analyzed all the available, albeit limited and scattered, studies conducted in the laboratory and in the field on the effect of pH on marine phytoplankton in coastal waters. pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity of water.

The normal pH of open ocean seawater is about 8.1, or slightly alkaline. Hinga found that the pH of seawater in typical estuaries and coastal waters routinely varies from pH 7.5 to 8.5 with occasional occurrences of pH greater than 9 or less than 7. This is significant because pH levels routinely found in our coastal waters affect the growth rates of many species. At the more extreme pH values, some species cannot grow at all and only species with a tolerance for high or low pH would grow, eventually dominating the community.


Where a coastal ecosystem has a regular pH cycle, pH may play a role in determining the timing of occurrence of species and the total abundance of blooms and the amount of plant growth. Phytoplankton communities were found to fix carbon only half as fast at pH 9 compared to those at pH 8. In some experiments, the abundance of certain species of dinoflagellates (the phytoplankton group responsible for red tides) correlated strongly with high pH. The significance of pH variability may also be increasing as pH variability increases with increased loadings of plant nutrients to the coastal environments. Increased nutrient loading (from sewage treatment plants, the use of fertilizers, and from atmospheric deposition) to many coastal environments over the last century is well documented.

"The existing data suggest that scientists and coastal managers should not exclude pH as a factor in coastal marine phytoplankton ecology," said Hinga. "It seems probable that upon further study, pH will prove to be a non-trivial factor in phytoplankton dynamics in coastal environments."

The study was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Ocean Program.

The URI Graduate School of Oceanography is one of the country’s largest marine science education programs, and one of the world’s foremost marine research institutions. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, RI, GSO serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions to such problems as acid rain, harmful algal blooms, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and coastal erosion. GSO is home to the Coastal Institute, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography, and the National Sea Grant Library.

For more information about this site, contact jredlich@advance.uri.edu
File last updated: Thursday, February 6, 2003

Lisa Cugini | University of Rhode Island
Further information:
http://www.news.uri.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>