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Kayleigh Erazmus - Marine Invasions

Sacred Heart University, Connecticut

The Effects of Ocean Acidification on Crassostrea virginica and Crassostrea ariakensis

Since the Industrial Revolution atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen from 280 parts per million to 380 parts per million and are predicted to rise to over 800 parts per million by the year 2100. This increase is a result of the excess anthropogenic carbon emissions. It is these emission which has lead to the familiar term “global warming” and now to a new term “ocean acidification.” Ocean Acidification is a reduction of pH in ocean waters due to excess anthropogenic carbon dioxide. The ocean is currently acting as a sink or buffer for CO2 and many people do not realize the toll this is having on the ocean ecosystem and especially calcifying biota.  An increase in CO2 makes less carbonate ions available for all calcifying organisms. This has been positively proven in pelagic systems however little to no research has been conducted in estuaries or costal waters. Our study was specifically designed to look at oysters, both native and non native, which reside in estuaries and to examine the effects that increased carbon dioxide levels have on calcium carbonate production. We hypothesized that the more carbon dioxide present in the water the less calcium carbonate would be produced in oyster shells. Using density results, growth rates, ICPO-ES analysis, and dissolved inorganic carbon measures we were able to positively support our hypothesis.