Long-Term Trends in Calcifying Plankton and pH in the North Sea

D.J. Beare, A. McQuatters-Gollop, T. van der Hammen, M.A.M. Machiels, S.J. Teoh

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Relationships between six calcifying plankton groups and pH are explored in a highly biologically productive and data-rich area of the central North Sea using time-series datasets. The long-term trends show that abundances of foraminiferans, coccolithophores, and echinoderm larvae have risen over the last few decades while the abundances of bivalves and pteropods have declined. Despite good coverage of pH data for the study area there is uncertainty over the quality of this historical dataset; pH appears to have been declining since the mid 1990s but there was no statistical connection between the abundance of the calcifying plankton and the pH trends. If there are any effects of pH on calcifying plankton in the North Sea they appear to be masked by the combined effects of other climatic (e.g. temperature), chemical (nutrient concentrations) and biotic (predation) drivers. Certain calcified plankton have proliferated in the central North Sea, and are tolerant of changes in pH that have occurred since the 1950s but bivalve larvae and pteropods have declined. An improved monitoring programme is required as ocean acidification may be occurring at a rate that will exceed the environmental niches of numerous planktonic taxa, testing their capacities for acclimation and genetic adaptation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere61175
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • ocean acidification
  • carbonate chemistry
  • climate-change
  • atlantic
  • impacts
  • calcification
  • consistency
  • recorder
  • pacific

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    Beare, D. J., McQuatters-Gollop, A., van der Hammen, T., Machiels, M. A. M., & Teoh, S. J. (2013). Long-Term Trends in Calcifying Plankton and pH in the North Sea. PLoS ONE, 8(5), [e61175]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0061175