The future of the northeast Atlantic benthic flora in a high CO2 world

Juliet Brodie, Christopher J. Williamson, Dan A. Smale, Nicholas A. Kamenos, Nova Mieszkowska, Rui Santos, Michael Cunliffe, Michael Steinke, Christopher Yesson, Kathryn M. Anderson, Valentina Asnaghi, Colin Brownlee, Heidi L. Burdett, Michael T. Burrows, Sinead Collins, Penelope J. C. Donohue, Ben Harvey, Andrew Foggo, Fanny Noisette, Joana NunesFederica Ragazzola, John A. Raven, Daniela N. Schmidt, David Suggett, Mirta Teichberg, Jason M. Hall-Spencer

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Seaweed and seagrass communities in the northeast Atlantic have been profoundly impacted by humans, and the rate of change is accelerating rapidly
due to runaway CO2 emissions and mounting pressures on coastlines associated
with human population growth and increased consumption of finite
resources. Here, we predict how rapid warming and acidification are likely
to affect benthic flora and coastal ecosystems of the northeast Atlantic in
this century, based on global evidence from the literature as interpreted by
the collective knowledge of the authorship. We predict that warming will kill
off kelp forests in the south and that ocean acidification will remove maerl
habitat in the north. Seagrasses will proliferate, and associated epiphytes
switch from calcified algae to diatoms and filamentous species. Invasive
species will thrive in niches liberated by loss of native species and spread
via exponential development of artificial marine structures. Combined
impacts of seawater warming, ocean acidification, and increased storminess
may replace structurally diverse seaweed canopies, with associated calcified and noncalcified flora, with simple habitats dominated by noncalcified, turf-forming
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2787-2798
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Calcified algae
  • climate change
  • invasive species
  • macroalgae
  • microphytobenthos
  • seagrasses
  • volatile gases


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