I recently viewed a documentary called “Flying River Observed in Tallest Structure in South America, National Geographic” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjpPsZTwsaM). In this film, as an aside, it was mentioned that a major source (the major source?) for the oxygen required for life on earth are the diatoms in sea water.
It was mentioned that diatoms have shells. In a separate article (whose source I do not remember) it was mentioned that the sea, because it is being exposed to higher and higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, was becoming more and more acidic. This high acidity was making it difficult for sealife to form shells. Will this decrease the number of diatoms in sea water?
Will this affect the amount of oxygen available to life on earth?

  • $\begingroup$ Lower pH (from CO2 reacting with ocean water to form carbonic acid) makes formation of bicarbonate shells more difficult. this would reduce the fitness of any bicarbonate-shell forming organisms. However, diatoms, to the best of my knowledge, usually have shells made of silica, so I am not sure to what degree lower pH water will have on the formation of their shells and their overall fitness. However, communities and competitive interactions would certainly change as other organisms' fitnesses are impacted, which very well could impact diatoms indirectly. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Apr 15 at 18:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.