Research project

Ocean Acidification: Impacts of ocean acidification on key benthic ecosystems, communities, habitats species

Project overview

Surface ocean pH has been maintained between 8.0 and 8.3 pH units for the last 25 million years. However, the current rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is so great that the oceans are predicted to experience unprecedented changes in seawater pH and carbonate chemistry. Ocean acidification will affect ecosystems and processes at all levels of organisation: from molecules to communities, demanding an evaluation of impacts at all levels of organisation.
The ultimate aim of our consortium was to predict the impact of acidification and warming on the biodiversity and function of 3 key UK habitats. To achieve this, this project – led by Plymouth marine Laboratory, assembled a consortium of 25 researchers, from 12 organisations, who encompass a broad range of skills and knowledge and have recognised expertise in high CO2 research and/or studying benthic systems. We employed laboratory experiments, field observations, numerical models and interdisciplinary workshops to achieve our goal. Our long-term experiments identified that many coastal species could withstand extremes of temperature and high carbon dioxide, but that they faced significant metabolic trade-offs and impacts to performance as a result.


Lead researcher

Professor Chris Hauton PhD, FRSB, FMBA

Head of School

Research interests

  • Hauton has worked extensively with colleagues in India and Bangladesh since 2015 and has developed an international profile in shrimp health research, including contributing to the development of a mobile phone app, the 'Chingri Shrimp App', to support shrimp farmer training in Bangladesh.
  • Research has also included quantifying the potential toxic risk of deep sea mining of mineral resources. He was part of the leading team of the EC FP7 MIDAS Project, exploring the ecological risk of deep-sea mining, outputs from which led to contributions to the Royal Society Foresight Future of the Sea report (2016/17), to presentations at the UN International Seabed Authority in Jamaica, and expert contributions to the UN ISA ISA Legal and Technical Commision ISBA/27/C/11 'Guidelines for the establishment of baseline environmental data.'
  • Other activity
Connect with Chris

Research outputs