Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Peter J. Harries

Co-Major Professor

Lisa L. Robbins


acidification, benthic, carbonate, florida, foraminifera, ocean


Increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are in dynamic equilibrium with the oceans. The absorption of CO2 by seawater causes a decrease in seawater pH and calcite saturation state (SS). This process, termed ocean acidification, exerts deleterious effects on marine calcifiers. Studies of symbiont-bearing large benthic foraminifera (LBF) have reported a generally unfavorable response to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide ([CO2]).

Experiments and analyses were undertaken to examine the effect of increased [CO2] on the growth rate, ultrastructure, stable isotopes of carbon and oxygen, as well as Mg/Ca of the high-Mg miliolid Archaias angulatus and the low-Mg rotalid Amphistegina gibbosa. A CO2-injection culture study was performed at pH 8.0, 7.8 and 7.6, corresponding to CO2 concentrations of approximately 400 ppm, 800 ppm, and 1,300 ppm. After 2, 4, or 6 weeks of treatment, bags containing groups of approximately 20 previously-imaged live specimens were removed and prepared for the aforementioned analyses.

Archaias angulatus responded to increased [CO2] by reducing test growth rate at 1,300 ppm CO2 (pH 7.6) by 50% (p < 0.01, r2 = 36%), increasing its pore area (F(2,3477) = 103.37, p<0.001), as well as recording increased d18O values (F(2,40) = 3.21, p = 0.51) and Mg/Ca ratios (t(17) = 2.17, p = 0.04). Amphistegina gibbosa responded by increasing the test growth rate at 800 ppm CO2 (pH 7.8) and decreasing test growth slightly at 1,300 ppm CO2 (pH 7.6) (F(3,281) = 9.07, p < 0.001, r2 = 72.4%). There was no significant impact on isotopic or Mg/Ca composition of the test measured. Individuals with higher test growth rates also contained increased amounts of organic material.

West Florida shelf LBF carbonate production attributed to LBF was estimated by combining interpolations of SS calcite at three treatment levels, corresponding to pH 8.1 (400 ppm CO2), pH 7.8 (800 ppm CO2), and pH 7.6 (1,300 ppm CO2), with a map of the carbonate fraction of seafloor sediment. Growth rates for 10 species were estimated in a meta-analysis of culture studies; these rates were used to model the response of miliolids and rotalids to increased [CO2].

In the model, rotalids responded to higher CO2 concentrations by reducing their average adult size by 20% at 800 ppm CO2 and 40% at 1,300 ppm CO2. Miliolids responded by reducing their average adult size by 40% at 800 ppm CO2 and 75% at 1,300 ppm CO2. Modeled LBF carbonate production for the west Florida shelf is 7 Mt at 400 ppm, 4.8 Mt at 800 ppm, and 2.5 Mt at 1,300 ppm. In a high CO2 world, low-Mg rotalids exhibit modest reductions in test growth rates and carbonate production, whereas high-Mg miliolids exhibit major reductions in test growth rates and carbonate production.