Contrary to theoretical expectations, calcification does NOT always protect coralline algae from herbivory – species and shape matters! “Whoa!” says Dr. Patrick Martone, instructor for the BMSC Fall Program Seaweeds course since 2010, and inspiration for many seaweed-loving BMSC Alumni.
Calcification is widely thought to be an adaptation that reduces the impact of herbivory. Ocean acidification may negatively impact calcification of marine organisms, including coralline algae, implying that corallines may become increasingly susceptible to benthic grazers. By manipulating calcium carbonate content of three articulated coralline algal species, the authors demonstrated that calcification has a variable and species-specific effect on sea urchin grazing, and hypothesize that the herbivory-reducing benefits of calcification likely depend upon coralline thallus morphology.
This study represents undergraduate research conducted by 2015 Fall Program students Tyrel Froese (UVic), Janessa Bretner (UCalgary), Alexis DeMong(UCalgary), here at the BMSC, and by Soren R. Schipper (UBC) in 2017 at the Friday Harbor Labs, and inspired and supported by Dr. Patrick Martone (UBC Botany).
Calcification does not necessarily protect articulated coralline algae from urchin grazing. Patrick T. Martone (UBC), Soren R. Schipper (UBC), Tyrel Froese (UVic), Janessa Bretner (UCalgary), Alexis DeMong(UCalgary), Tao M. Eastham (SFU). JEMBE, 537: 151513, January 2021
photo: Colin Bates