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OSU Ocean Acidification Mesocosm System (OAMS)

OSU Ocean Acidification Mesocosm System (OAMS)

Increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not only affects ecosystems on land, but also changes the chemistry of the ocean to become more acidic, in a process known as ocean acidification. Ocean acidification disproportionately affects calcifying organisms, or plants and animals with calcium carbonate skeletons, the same material that makes up shells. Many key species in the Oregon intertidal are calcifiers, and are thus vulnerable to ocean acidification, including the California mussel (Mytilus californianus), the ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus), and several species of barnacles, whelks, and coralline algae.

To look at the effects of ocean acidification on organisms, we’ve constructed an Ocean Acidification Mesocosm System at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. The OAMS facility enables marine organisms, from algae to invertebrates, to be grown under rigorously controlled, altered seawater conditions. The system consists of flow-through experimental chambers held in three, double-decker seawater tables, each of which can be maintained at a prescribed level of seawater pH and saturation state for long-term, controlled experiments. Recent projects in this facility include testing the effect of ocean acidification on the performance of vulnerable species of algae and on invertebrate predator-prey dynamics.

This mesocosm facility was funded primarily through a grant from the Kingfisher Foundation.