Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B
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Algae help sea snails toughen up against acidification
© Federica Grassi/Getty
Some calcareous sea creatures could survive ocean acidification thanks to a calorie-rich diet that helps them grow stronger shells.
Lab studies suggest that ocean acidification from carbon dioxide will hamper the shell-building capacities of calcifying sea life, from crabs to corals. But whether this is the case in the wild remains unexplored.
A team that included researchers from the University of Adelaide gathered algae and sea snails from the acidified waters around carbon dioxide vents on a rocky reef near New Zealand. They found that snails living nearer the vents grew thicker and harder shells than those living farther away.
The herbivorous snails were feasting on the high-calorie algae that thrive in the carbon-enriched waters. The snails then used this extra energy to grow more durable shells.
The extra calories gained by eating carbon-loving plants could explain why some herbivorous species are surviving in increasingly acidic oceans.
- Proceedings of the Royal Society B 286, 20190757 (2019). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0757