Ocean acidification is predicted to cause widespread modification of marine ecosystems in a future high CO2 ocean. Fleshy macroalgae (e.g. kelp) dominate temperate rocky reefs worldwide, and while it has been predicted that they will benefit from ocean acidification but to date there is little evidence to support this hypothesis. Unlike terrestrial plants that use only CO2, macroalgae can utilise either CO2 or bicarbonate (HCO3-) that is dissolved in seawater for photosynthesis. However, in Tasmania we have a globally unique coastal system that has a substantial number (80%) of species that can use only CO2 in photosynthesis (Cornwall et al. 2015). In this honours project, you will examine the growth and physiological responses of Tasmanian red seaweeds to CO2 fertilization using a state-of-the-art ocean acidification simulator available in Hurd’s laboratory.
A number of projects on this general topic are available and would suit a student with a background in algal biology, plant physiology and/or temperate reef biology. Diving is useful but not essential.