New research published in Nature Climate Change predicts how living habitats such as corals, seagrasses and kelp forests will be affected by ocean acidification. Increased ocean acidification is projected to result in a decline in species diversity in supportive habitats such as coral reefs and mussel beds, which use calcium carbonate to build their shells and skeletons. Seagrasses show potential to increase the number of species they can support but this is not shown to actually be happening yet, which the researchers say highlights the need to focus on how habitats respond to climate change rather than on specific species response. For example, if medium and large-sized mussels decrease as a result of changes in ocean chemistry, there are hundreds of other species that use mussel beds as habitats that will also be affected.
The research was conducted by a team working across China, Europe, Australia, Japan, and USA, who analysed existing studies on the response of species to climate change and the impact of underwater volcanic events on habitat-forming species to produce a better picture of the impacts of ocean acidification.