Three decades of sea water abstraction by Kapar power plant (Malaysia): What impacts on tropical zooplankton community?

Zooplankton samples collected before (1985–86) and after (2013–14) the establishment of Kapar power station (KPS) were examined to test the hypothesis that increased sea surface temperature (SST) and other water quality changes have altered the zooplankton community structure. Elevated SST and reduced pH were detected between before and after impact pairs, with the greatest impact at the station closest to KPS. Present PAHs and heavy metal concentrations are unlikely causal factors. Water parameter changes did not affect diversity but community structure of the zooplankton. Tolerant small crustaceans, salps and larvaceans likely benefited from elevated temperature, reduced pH and shift to a more significant microbial loop exacerbated by eutrophication, while large crustaceans were more vulnerable to such changes. It is predicted that any further rise in SST will remove more large-bodied crustacean zooplankton, the preferred food for fish larvae and other meroplankton, with grave consequences to fishery production.

Continue reading ‘Three decades of sea water abstraction by Kapar power plant (Malaysia): What impacts on tropical zooplankton community?’

Large-scale prediction of seagrass distribution integrating landscape metrics and environmental factors: The case of Cymodocea nodosa (Mediterranean–Atlantic)

Understanding the factors that affect seagrass meadows encompassing their entire range of distribution is challenging yet important for their conservation. Here, we predict the realized and potential distribution for the species Cymodocea nodosa modelling its environmental niche in the Mediterranean and adjacent Atlantic coastlines. We use a combination of environmental variables and landscape metrics to perform a suite of predictive algorithms which enables examination of the niche and find suitable habitats for the species. The most relevant environmental variables defining the distribution of C. nodosa were sea surface temperature (SST) and salinity. We found suitable habitats at SST from 5.8 °C to 26.4 °C and salinity ranging from 17.5 to 39.3. Optimal values of mean winter wave height ranged between 1.2 and 1.5 m, while waves higher than 2.5 m seemed to limit the presence of the species. The influence of nutrients and pH, despite having weight on the models, was not so clear in terms of ranges that confine the distribution of the species. Landscape metrics able to capture variation in the coastline enhanced significantly the accuracy of the models, despite the limitations caused by the scale of the study. We found potential suitable areas not occupied by the seagrass mainly in coastal regions of North Africa and the Adriatic coast of Italy. The present study describes the realized and potential distribution of a seagrass species, providing the first global model of the factors that can be shaping the environmental niche of C. nodosa throughout its range. We identified the variables constraining its distribution as well as thresholds delineating its environmental niche. Landscape metrics showed promising prospects for the prediction of coastal species dependent on the shape of the coast. By contrasting predictive approaches, we defined the variables affecting the distributional areas that seem unsuitable for C. nodosa as well as those suitable habitats not occupied by the species. These findings are encouraging for its use in future studies on climate-related marine range shifts and meadow restoration projects of these fragile ecosystems.

Chefaoui R. M., Assis J., Duarte C. M. & Serrão E. A., 2016. Large-scale prediction of seagrass distribution integrating landscape metrics and environmental factors: The case of Cymodocea nodosa (Mediterranean–Atlantic). Estuaries and Coasts 39(1):123-137. Article (subscription required)

Mussel shells of Mytilus edulis as bioarchives of the distribution of rare earth elements and yttrium in seawater and the potential impact of pH and temperature on their partitioning behavior (update)

Mussel shells are potential bioarchives of proxies for changes in the physicochemical conditions in the bivalve’s habitat. One such proxy is the distribution of rare earths and yttrium (REY) in seawater, as REY speciation in seawater is sensitive to pH and temperature variations, due to the impact of these parameters on the activity of CO32− in seawater. We present a new protocol for sample preparation and determination of ultratrace concentrations of REY in bulk bivalve shells (comprised of calcite and aragonite) that includes sample treatment with NaOCl followed by REY separation and preconcentration. The data obtained were used to calculate REY partition coefficients between bulk bimineralic shells of Mytilus edulis (calcite aragonite mix) and ambient seawater, and the results acquired were then used to investigate the potential effects of pH and temperature on REY partitioning.

Shells of Mytilus edulis mussels from the North Sea show consistent shale-normalized (SN) REY patterns that increase from the light REY to the middle REY and decrease from the middle REY to the heavy REY. Despite being different from the general seawater REYSN pattern, the shells still display distinct REY features of seawater, such as a negative CeSN anomaly and small positive YSN and GdSN anomalies. Apparent REY partition coefficients between shells and seawater (appDTot.REYshell/seawater) are low and decrease strongly from the light REY (4.04 for La) to the heavy REY (0.34 for Lu). However, assuming that only the free REY3+ are incorporated into the shell, modDFreeREY3+shell/seawater values are higher and comparatively similar for all REY (102.46 for La; 113.44 for Lu) but show a slight maximum at Tb (199.18). Although the impact of vital effects, such as REY speciation in a mussel’s extrapallial fluid from which the carbonate minerals precipitate, cannot be quantified yet, it appears that M. edulis shells are bioarchives of some REY features of seawater.

We modeled the REYSN patterns of a hypothetical mussel shell at pH 8.2 and 7.6 and at temperatures of 25 and 5 °C, assuming that only free REY3+ are incorporated into the carbonate’s crystal lattice and that vital effects do not obliterate the REY signal of the shells. The results suggest that with lower pH, REY concentrations in shells increase, but with little effect on the shape of the REYSN patterns, while a temperature change has an impact on the REYSN pattern but only minor effects on REY concentrations. Hence, after additional calibration studies, the REY systematics in mussel shells may become a valuable proxy for paleo-pH and ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Mussel shells of Mytilus edulis as bioarchives of the distribution of rare earth elements and yttrium in seawater and the potential impact of pH and temperature on their partitioning behavior (update)’

Full-time, fixed-term (4-year) postdoctoral position within marine carbon cycle science, University of Bergen, Norway

Deadline for applications: 26 february 2016!

There is a vacancy for a postdoctoral position at the Geophysical Institute, Bergen, Norway, within marine carbon cycle science. The position is for a period of 4 years and is tied to the project Integrated Carbon Observing System – Norway (ICOS – Norway) funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

Work description

ICOS is a research infrastructure to monitor the increase in atmospheric CO2 and the exchanges with the ocean and terrestrial biosphere to enable us to completely account for the fate of man-made CO2 emissions. ICOS is a European infrastructure project, and ICOS-Norway is its Norwegian component.

We are now aiming to hire a postdoctoral research fellow who will work within the marine component of ICOS-Norway. The tasks include:

  • helping with the day-to-day as well as long-term coordination of Norwegian Marine ICOS, which currently includes four systems for determination of sea surface CO2 partial pressure installed onboard Voluntary Observing Ships.
  • operate the pCO2 system onboard the VOS Nuka Arctica, a cargo carrier on a regular schedule between Denmark and Greenland.
  • utilise the data that are produced by Norwegian Marine ICOS to estimate air-sea CO2 exchange in the northern North Atlantic, including parts of the Arctic Ocean, on a monthly basis.

Continue reading ‘Full-time, fixed-term (4-year) postdoctoral position within marine carbon cycle science, University of Bergen, Norway’

Dynamics of transparent exopolymeric particles and their precursors during a mesocosm experiment: impact of ocean acidification

The dissolution of anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 in seawater is suspected to exert a strong pressure on biological processes as well as on carbon and nutrient cycles. Transparent exopolymeric particles (TEP) are polysaccharide particles, formed by aggregation of polymers exuded by phytoplankton and strongly involved in organic matter sedimentation. A mesocosm experiment was performed from February to March 2013 in the coastal waters of the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea, a region characterised by low-nutrient low-chlorophyll (LNLC) levels. We aimed to determine the effect of ocean acidification on the organic carbon pool of TEP produced by a natural phytoplankton community. The experiment was conducted in nine mesocosms of 50 m3 deployed for 12 days, and subjected to seven partial pressures of CO2 (pCO2) levels: one control level in triplicate and six elevated levels between 450 and 1250 μatm. The use of different analytical methods allowed the assessment of TEP density, volume concentration and size distribution as well as both TEP and TEP precursors carbon content. TEP contributed vastly to the particulate organic carbon pool (∼62%), and were mainly produced by small-sized phytoplankton such as pico- and nanophytoplankton. TEP precursors carbon content represented three times the carbon content of particulate TEP, showing that this pool has to be considered in experiments focused on the environmental control of TEP production. There was no evidence that TEP and TEP precursors were dependent on pCO2. These parameters exhibited clear temporal dynamics, with tight links to community composition, nutrient availability and other environmental parameters.

Continue reading ‘Dynamics of transparent exopolymeric particles and their precursors during a mesocosm experiment: impact of ocean acidification’

A vulnerability assessment of fish and invertebrates to climate change on the Northeast U.S. continental shelf

Climate change and decadal variability are impacting marine fish and invertebrate species worldwide and these impacts will continue for the foreseeable future. Quantitative approaches have been developed to examine climate impacts on productivity, abundance, and distribution of various marine fish and invertebrate species. However, it is difficult to apply these approaches to large numbers of species owing to the lack of mechanistic understanding sufficient for quantitative analyses, as well as the lack of scientific infrastructure to support these more detailed studies. Vulnerability assessments provide a framework for evaluating climate impacts over a broad range of species with existing information. These methods combine the exposure of a species to a stressor (climate change and decadal variability) and the sensitivity of species to the stressor. These two components are then combined to estimate an overall vulnerability. Quantitative data are used when available, but qualitative information and expert opinion are used when quantitative data is lacking. Here we conduct a climate vulnerability assessment on 82 fish and invertebrate species in the Northeast U.S. Shelf including exploited, forage, and protected species. We define climate vulnerability as the extent to which abundance or productivity of a species in the region could be impacted by climate change and decadal variability. We find that the overall climate vulnerability is high to very high for approximately half the species assessed; diadromous and benthic invertebrate species exhibit the greatest vulnerability. In addition, the majority of species included in the assessment have a high potential for a change in distribution in response to projected changes in climate. Negative effects of climate change are expected for approximately half of the species assessed, but some species are expected to be positively affected (e.g., increase in productivity or move into the region). These results will inform research and management activities related to understanding and adapting marine fisheries management and conservation to climate change and decadal variability.

Continue reading ‘A vulnerability assessment of fish and invertebrates to climate change on the Northeast U.S. continental shelf’

Ocean acidification affects hemocyte physiology in the tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi)

We used flow cytometry to determine if there would be a difference in hematology, selected immune functions, and hemocyte pH (pHi), under two different, future ocean acidification scenarios (pH = 7.50, 7.80) compared to current conditions (pH = 8.09) for Chionoecetes bairdi, Tanner crab. Hemocytes were analyzed after adult Tanner crabs were held for two years under continuous exposure to acidified ocean water. Total counts of hemocytes did not vary among control and experimental treatments; however, there were significantly greater number of dead, circulating hemocytes in crabs held at the lowest pH treatment. Phagocytosis of fluorescent microbeads by hemocytes was greatest at the lowest pH treatment. These results suggest that hemocytes were dying, likely by apoptosis, at a rate faster than upregulated phagocytosis was able to remove moribund cells from circulation at the lowest pH. Crab hemolymph pH (pHe) averaged 8.09 and did not vary among pH treatments. There was no significant difference in internal pH (pHi) within hyalinocytes among pH treatments and the mean pHi (7.26) was lower than the mean pHe. In contrast, there were significant differences among treatments in pHi of the semi-granular+granular cells. Control crabs had the highest mean semi-granular+granular pHi compared to the lowest pH treatment. As physiological hemocyte functions changed from ambient conditions, interactions with the number of eggs in the second clutch, percentage of viable eggs, and calcium concentration in the adult crab shell was observed. This suggested that the energetic costs of responding to ocean acidification and maintaining defense mechanisms in Tanner crab may divert energy from other physiological processes, such as reproduction.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification affects hemocyte physiology in the tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi)’


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