Important Marine Plants Can Cope With Climate Change

Written by on July 8, 2015 in Marine Life, Other Marine Life

New research shows that marine algae may be better able to cope with climate change than we thought.

Fragilariopsis, a type of phytoplankton. Photo CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Fragilariopsis, a type of phytoplankton. Photo CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Marine algae in the form of phytoplankton (microscopic plants) is important not only because it forms the basis of the ocean food web, but also because it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and generates oxygen.

To study its reaction to rising carbon dioxide levels, researchers from University of Edinburgh grew phytoplankton in tanks at high levels predicted for the end of the century. Some were kept at a constant level, while others experienced fluctuations of CO2 levels.

Researchers found that, compared with the phytoplankton grown under consistent CO2 levels, the phytoplankton grown under fluctuating levels was better able to cope with changing ocean conditions. However, the they were smaller than the phytoplankton grown under stable conditions.

“Predicting how populations of ocean algae will respond to changing ocean conditions is difficult, but these results suggest that populations from highly changeable environments are better placed to deal with additional environmental change than previously suspected,” Dr. Sinead Collins or the School of Biological Sciences said in a news release.

Overall, these findings suggest that marine algae may be better able to adapt to climate change than previously thought, which may impact how well marine life can feed off of it and how efficiently it takes CO2 out of the atmosphere.

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Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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