High tolerance of microzooplankton to ocean acidification in an Arctic coastal plankton community
Abstract. Impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine biota have been observed in a wide range of marine systems. We used a mesocosm approach to study the response of a high Arctic coastal microzooplankton community during the post-bloom period in Kongsfjorden (Svalbard) to direct and indirect effects of high pCO2/low pH. We found almost no direct effects of OA on microzooplankton composition and diversity. Both the relative shares of ciliates and heterotrophic dinoflagellates as well as the taxonomic composition of microzooplankton remained unaffected by changes in pCO2/pH. Although the different pCO2 treatments affected food availability and phytoplankton composition, no indirect effects (e.g. on the total carrying capacity and phenology of microzooplankton) could be observed. Our data point to a high tolerance of this Arctic microzooplankton community to changes in pCO2/pH. Future studies on the impact of OA on plankton communities should include microzooplankton in order to test whether the observed low sensitivity to OA is typical for coastal communities where changes in seawater pH occur frequently.