Articles | Volume 11, issue 17
Biogeosciences, 11, 4771–4782, 2014

Special issue: Field investigation of ocean acidification effects in northwest...

Biogeosciences, 11, 4771–4782, 2014

Research article 10 Sep 2014

Research article | 10 Sep 2014

Morphology of Emiliania huxleyi coccoliths on the northwestern European shelf – is there an influence of carbonate chemistry?

J. R. Young1, A. J. Poulton2, and T. Tyrrell3 J. R. Young et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London, UK
  • 2National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, European Way Southampton, UK
  • 3Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, European Way, Southampton, UK

Abstract. Within the context of the UK Ocean Acidification project, Emiliania huxleyi (type A) coccolith morphology was examined from samples collected during cruise D366. In particular, a morphometric study of coccolith size and degree of calcification was made on scanning electron microscope images of samples from shipboard CO2 perturbation experiments and from a set of environmental samples with significant variation in calcite saturation state (Ωcalcite). One bioassay in particular (E4 from the southern North Sea) yielded unambiguous results – in this bioassay exponential growth from a low initial cell density occurred with no nutrient enrichment and coccosphere numbers increased tenfold during the experiment. The samples with elevated CO2 saw significantly reduced coccolithophore growth. However, coccolithophore morphology was not significantly affected by the changing CO2 conditions even under the highest levels of perturbation (1000 μatm CO2). Environmental samples similarly showed no correlation of coccolithophore morphology with calcite saturation state. Some variation in coccolith size and degree of calcification does occur but this seems to be predominantly due to genotypic differentiation between populations on the shelf and in the open ocean.

Final-revised paper