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Ocean Acidification: a Meiofaunal Perspective and Coping with

Period: October 2013 till September 2016
Status: Completed

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Since the industrial revolution, the oceans have been absorbing carbon dioxide at an unprecedented rate. There is evidence that this ongoing process has already significantly altered seawater carbon chemistry at a global scale and will continue to do so for hundreds of years to come; a phenomenon termed “ocean acidification”. The challenge currently facing scientists is to predict the long term implications of ocean acidification (OA) for the diversity of marine organisms and for the ecosystem functions this diversity sustains. This project aims to contribute to this imminent challenge by providing empirical data on the effect of OA on meiobenthos, a marine benthic compartment that despite its relatively high standing stocks and potential competitive advantage based on the lack of carbonate parts, so far, has received very little attention in the quest for OA effects on the marine realm. This project will study potential OA effects on both taxonomical and functional meiobenthic diversity, the role of meiobenthos in ecosystem functioning, and the link between both. These aims will be met through a threefold approach, i.e. by means of observations of natural meiobenthic communities at volcanic CO2 seeps, in situ experimental work at natural volcanic CO2 seeps and experimental laboratorial work on naturally stable, shallow-water sediments.

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