Assessing the importance of rhodolith beds as natural carbon sinks
Recognised as a unique ecosystem, rhodolith beds - built by free-living coralline algae - provide habitat for numerous algae and sessile invertebrates. Their ability to calcify, along with their abundance and biomass, make them major carbonate producers. Yet, despite their global distribution, their contribution to the oceanic organic and inorganic carbon cycling has received little to no attention. These biodiversity hotspots are currently threatened by global climate change and an array of local stressors. The EU-funded RHODOCAR project will use a physiological approach to provide insights into rhodolith metabolism, carbonate production and carbon fluxes, and to their responses to global and local stressors. This information will allow assessing the current and future importance of rhodolith beds as natural carbon sinks.
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