Effects of Ocean Warming and Acidification on Rhodolith/Maërl Beds

  • Sophie MartinEmail author
  • Jason M. Hall-Spencer
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 15)


Coralline algae are expected to be adversely impacted by global warming and ocean acidification, although there has been no synthesis of these effects on habitat-forming species. We compiled published responses of maërl and rhodolith-forming species to ocean acidification and warming. Although the response is variable among species, their recruitment, growth, health and survival are usually negatively affected under elevated CO2. Most studies show that coralline algal calcification is adversely affected under near-future ocean acidification scenarios and that in combination with a 1–3 °C increase in seawater temperature this has an even larger impact. Most research has involved relatively short-term experiments on single species, which makes it difficult to predict long-term effects at the ecosystem level because the impact of global changes on coralline algal habitats will depend on the direct impacts on individual species and the indirect effects of altered interspecific interactions. Studies in areas with naturally high CO2 levels show that coralline algae are adversely affected by long-term acidification through increased competition from non-calcified competitors. Coralline algal habitats such as vermetid reefs, coralligene and beds of rhodoliths or maerl are likely to decline in the near future as higher CO2 levels benefit fleshy algae and corrosive waters reduce calcareous habitat complexity and associated biodiversity.


Ocean Acidification Crustose Coralline Alga Coralline Alga Ocean Warming Elevated pCO2 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to the reviewer for valuable comments and suggestions on a previous version of this manuscript. This work is a contribution to the “European Project on Ocean Acidification” (EPOCA) and EU’Mediterranean Sea Acidification under a changing climate’ project (MedSeA) which received funding from the European Community (grant agreements 211384 and 265103).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRS, UMR 7144, Laboratoire Adaptation et Diversité en Milieu MarinStation Biologique de RoscoffRoscoff CedexFrance
  2. 2.Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Université de Paris 06Station Biologique de RoscoffRoscoff CedexFrance
  3. 3.Marine Biology and Ecology Research CentrePlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK
  4. 4.Shimonda Marine Research CentreUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan

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