Decrease in coccolithophore calcification and CO2 since the middle Miocene

Thumbnail Image
Bolton, Clara T.
Hernandez-Sanchez, Maria T.
Fuertes, Miguel-Ángel
Gonzalez-Lemos, Saul
Abrevaya, Lorena
Mendez-Vicente, Ana
Flores, Jose-Abel
Probert, Ian
Giosan, Liviu
Johnson, Joel E.
Stoll, Heather M.
Alternative Title
Date Created
Related Materials
Replaced By
Marine algae are instrumental in carbon cycling and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) regulation. One group, coccolithophores, uses carbon to photosynthesize and to calcify, covering their cells with chalk platelets (coccoliths). How ocean acidification influences coccolithophore calcification is strongly debated, and the effects of carbonate chemistry changes in the geological past are poorly understood. This paper relates degree of coccolith calcification to cellular calcification, and presents the first records of size-normalized coccolith thickness spanning the last 14 Myr from tropical oceans. Degree of calcification was highest in the low-pH, high-CO2 Miocene ocean, but decreased significantly between 6 and 4 Myr ago. Based on this and concurrent trends in a new alkenone εp record, we propose that decreasing CO2 partly drove the observed trend via reduced cellular bicarbonate allocation to calcification. This trend reversed in the late Pleistocene despite low CO2, suggesting an additional regulator of calcification such as alkalinity.
© The Author(s), 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Nature Communications 7 (2016): 10284, doi:10.1038/ncomms10284.
Embargo Date
Nature Communications 7 (2016): 10284
Cruise ID
Cruise DOI
Vessel Name
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution 4.0 International