Ideas and perspectives: When ocean acidification experiments are not the same, repeatability is not tested

Williamson, Phillip; Pörtner, Hans-Otto; Widdicombe, Steve; Gattuso, Jean-Pierre

Can experimental studies on the behavioural impacts of ocean acidification be trusted? That question was raised in early 2020 when a high-profile paper failed to corroborate previously observed responses of coral reef fish to high inline-formulaCO2. New information on the methodologies used in the “replicated” studies now provides a plausible explanation: the experimental conditions were substantially different. High sensitivity to test conditions is characteristic of ocean acidification research; such response variability shows that effects are complex, interacting with many other factors. Open-minded assessment of all research results, both negative and positive, remains the best way to develop process-based understanding. As in other fields, replication studies in ocean acidification are most likely to contribute to scientific advancement when carried out in a spirit of collaboration rather than confrontation.

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Williamson, Phillip / Pörtner, Hans-Otto / Widdicombe, Steve / et al: Ideas and perspectives: When ocean acidification experiments are not the same, repeatability is not tested. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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