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Changing carbon-to-nitrogen ratios of organic-matter export under ocean acidification

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 18:50 authored by Taucher, J, Boxhammer, T, Lennart BachLennart Bach, Paul, AJ, Schartau, M, Stange, P, Riebesell, U

Ocean acidification (OA) will affect marine biotas from the organism to the ecosystem level. Yet, the consequences for the biological carbon pump and thereby the oceanic sink for atmospheric CO2 are still unclear. Here we show that OA considerably alters the C/N ratio of organic-matter export (C/Nexport), a key factor determining efficiency of the biological pump. By synthesizing sediment-trap data from in situ mesocosm studies in different marine biomes, we find distinct but highly variable impacts of OA on C/Nexport, reaching up to a 20% increase/decrease under partial pressure of CO2effects on a variety of plankton taxa and corresponding shifts in food-web structure. Notably, our findings suggest a pivotal role of heterotrophic processes in controlling the response of C/Nexport to OA, thus contradicting the paradigm of primary producers as the principal driver of biogeochemical responses to ocean change.


Publication title

Nature Climate Change








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Nature Publishing Group

Place of publication

United Kingdon

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 The Authors, under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Ecosystem adaptation to climate change

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    University Of Tasmania