Articles | Volume 10, issue 9
Biogeosciences, 10, 6131–6139, 2013

Special issue: The ocean in a high-CO2 world III

Biogeosciences, 10, 6131–6139, 2013

Research article 30 Sep 2013

Research article | 30 Sep 2013

The response of calcifying plankton to climate change in the Pliocene

C. V. Davis1,*, M. P. S. Badger1,2, P. R. Bown3, and D. N. Schmidt1 C. V. Davis et al.
  • 1Organic Geochemistry Unit, Bristol Biogeochemistry Centre and The Cabot Institute, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Cantock's Close, Bristol, BS8 1TS, UK
  • 2Organic Geochemistry Unit, Cabot Institute and Bristol Biogeochemistry Research Centre, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Cantock's Close, Bristol, BS8 1TS, UK
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
  • *now at: Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, USA

Abstract. As a result of anthropogenic pCO2 increases, future oceans are growing warmer and lower in pH and oxygen, conditions that are likely to impact planktic communities. Past intervals of elevated and changing pCO2 and temperatures can offer a glimpse into the response of marine calcifying plankton to changes in surface oceans under conditions similar to those projected for the future. Here we present new records of planktic foraminiferal and coccolith calcification (weight and size) from Deep Sea Drilling Project Site 607 (mid-North Atlantic) and Ocean Drilling Program Site 999 (Caribbean Sea) from the Pliocene, the last time that pCO2 was similar to today, and extending through a global cooling event into the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation (3.3 to 2.6 million years ago). Test weights of both surface-dwelling Foraminifera Globigerina bulloides and thermocline-dwelling Foraminifera Globorotalia puncticulata vary with a potential link to regional temperature variation in the North Atlantic, whereas in the tropics Globigerinoides ruber test weight remains stable. In contrast, reticulofenestrid coccoliths show a narrowing size range and a decline in the largest lith diameters over this interval. Our results suggest no major changes in plankton calcite production during the high pCO2 Pliocene or during the transition into an icehouse world.

Final-revised paper