Articles | Volume 11, issue 8
Biogeosciences, 11, 2295–2308, 2014
Biogeosciences, 11, 2295–2308, 2014

Research article 24 Apr 2014

Research article | 24 Apr 2014

Environmental controls on the Emiliania huxleyi calcite mass

M. T. Horigome1, P. Ziveri1,2, M. Grelaud1, K.-H. Baumann3, G. Marino1,*, and P. G. Mortyn1,4 M. T. Horigome et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra 08193, Spain
  • 2Earth & Climate Cluster, Department of Earth Sciences, FALW, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, FALW, HV1081 Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 3Fachbereich Geowissenschaften, Universität Bremen, Postfach 330440, 28334 Bremen, Germany
  • 4Department of Geography, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra 08193, Spain
  • *now at: Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australia

Abstract. Although ocean acidification is expected to impact (bio) calcification by decreasing the seawater carbonate ion concentration, [CO32−], there is evidence of nonuniform response of marine calcifying plankton to low seawater [CO32−]. This raises questions about the role of environmental factors other than acidification and about the complex physiological responses behind calcification. Here we investigate the synergistic effect of multiple environmental parameters, including seawater temperature, nutrient (nitrate and phosphate) availability, and carbonate chemistry on the coccolith calcite mass of the cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi, the most abundant species in the world ocean. We use a suite of surface (late Holocene) sediment samples from the South Atlantic and southwestern Indian Ocean taken from depths lying above the modern lysocline (with the exception of eight samples that are located at or below the lysocline). The coccolith calcite mass in our results presents a latitudinal distribution pattern that mimics the main oceanographic features, thereby pointing to the potential importance of seawater nutrient availability (phosphate and nitrate) and carbonate chemistry (pH and pCO2) in determining coccolith mass by affecting primary calcification and/or the geographic distribution of E. huxleyi morphotypes. Our study highlights the importance of evaluating the combined effect of several environmental stressors on calcifying organisms to project their physiological response(s) in a high-CO2 world and improve interpretation of paleorecords.

Final-revised paper