Increasing acidification of the world’s oceans has the potential to significantly disrupt the way marine life communicates, with yet unknown consequences for the ecosystem, research by the University of Hull shows.
Increasing levels of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere are altering chemical communication which marine life relies upon to find food, avoid predators and to mate.
The research, published in the Globe Change Biology Journal, is expected to have a big impact as its potential implications range from aquaculture to ecosystem management and conservation.
Ocean acidification occurs when the CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed by sea water.
Lead author Christina C. Roggatz, a University of Hull PhD student, has shown how ‘smell’ molecules used for communication are significantly affected by this ongoing acidification of the ocean.
Chemical communication using smell molecules is essential for marine organisms. Its importance is comparable to the combined status of vision and hearing in humans.