Effects of seawater pCO2 and temperature on calcification and productivity in the coral genus Porites spp.: an exploration of potential interaction mechanisms

Understanding how rising seawater pCO2 and temperatures impact coral aragonite accretion is essential for predicting the future of reef ecosystems. Here, we report 2 long-term (10–11 month) studies assessing the effects of temperature (25 and 28 °C) and both high and low seawater pCO2 (180–750 μatm) on the calcification, photosynthesis and respiration of individual massive Porites spp. genotypes. Calcification rates were highly variable between genotypes, but high seawater pCO2 reduced calcification significantly in 4 of 7 genotypes cultured at 25 °C but in only 1 of 4 genotypes cultured at 28 °C. Increasing seawater temperature enhanced calcification in almost all corals, but the magnitude of this effect was seawater pCO2 dependent. The 3 °C temperature increase enhanced calcification rate on average by 3% at 180 μatm, by 35% at 260 μatm and by > 300% at 750 μatm. The rate increase at high seawater pCO2 exceeds that observed in inorganic aragonites. Responses of gross/net photosynthesis and respiration to temperature and seawater pCO2 varied between genotypes, but rates of all these processes were reduced at the higher seawater temperature. Increases in seawater temperature, below the thermal stress threshold, may mitigate against ocean acidification in this coral genus, but this moderation is not mediated by an increase in net photosynthesis. The response of coral calcification to temperature cannot be explained by symbiont productivity or by thermodynamic and kinetic influences on aragonite formation.

Continue reading ‘Effects of seawater pCO2 and temperature on calcification and productivity in the coral genus Porites spp.: an exploration of potential interaction mechanisms’

Sperm characteristics of wild and captive lebranche mullet Mugil liza (Valenciennes, 1836), subjected to sperm activation in different pH and salinity conditions


•Spermatology of Mugil liza in the wild and captive states.
•Morphometry and effects of pH and salinity on sperm motility.
•Optimize the “in vitro” handling of spermatozoa.


In this article we describe basic aspects of the sperm biology of lebranche mullet (Mugil liza) in the wild and in captivity, in particular assessing the effects of salinity (0, 10, 20, 30, 35, 40, 50 and 60 g L-1) and pH (6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) on sperm motility. Our results indicate that the highest percentage of motility was recorded with salinity 34.6 g L-1 (95 ± 10%) and the longest motility time was obtained with a salinity of 34.8 g L-1 (189 ± 15 s). Variations in the salinity between 30 and 35 g L-1 did not produce any significant alterations in sperm motility; however salinities of 20 and 50 g L-1 produced a significant loss of sperm motility. The highest percentage of motility was obtained at pH 8.5 (93 ± 12%), and the longest motility period at pH 8.7 (218 ± 13 s), while pH lower than or equal to 7 and equal to 10 both produced a significant loss in sperm motility. A positive correlation was found between pH/salinity and the motility percentage (R2 = 0.94 and R2 = 0.97) and motility time (R2 = 0.86 and R2 = 0.98). In seminal and morphometric parameters, statistically significant differences were observed in semen volume, sperm density, plasma membrane integrity and sperm morphometry between the groups studied, showing that the characteristics of the fish have a direct influence on sperm quality. The information generated in this research will be useful for developing biotechnology tools for the effective management of Mugil liza gametes. Continue reading ‘Sperm characteristics of wild and captive lebranche mullet Mugil liza (Valenciennes, 1836), subjected to sperm activation in different pH and salinity conditions’

The sponge holobiont in a changing ocean: from microbes to ecosystems

The recognition that all macroorganisms live in symbiotic association with microbial communities has opened up a new field in biology. Animals, plants, and algae are now considered holobionts, complex ecosystems consisting of the host, the microbiota, and the interactions among them. Accordingly, ecological concepts can be applied to understand the host-derived and microbial processes that govern the dynamics of the interactive networks within the holobiont. In marine systems, holobionts are further integrated into larger and more complex communities and ecosystems, a concept referred to as “nested ecosystems.” In this review, we discuss the concept of holobionts as dynamic ecosystems that interact at multiple scales and respond to environmental change. We focus on the symbiosis of sponges with their microbial communities—a symbiosis that has resulted in one of the most diverse and complex holobionts in the marine environment. In recent years, the field of sponge microbiology has remarkably advanced in terms of curated databases, standardized protocols, and information on the functions of the microbiota. Like a Russian doll, these microbial processes are translated into sponge holobiont functions that impact the surrounding ecosystem. For example, the sponge-associated microbial metabolisms, fueled by the high filtering capacity of the sponge host, substantially affect the biogeochemical cycling of key nutrients like carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous. Since sponge holobionts are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic stressors that jeopardize the stability of the holobiont ecosystem, we discuss the link between environmental perturbations, dysbiosis, and sponge diseases. Experimental studies suggest that the microbial community composition is tightly linked to holobiont health, but whether dysbiosis is a cause or a consequence of holobiont collapse remains unresolved. Moreover, the potential role of the microbiome in mediating the capacity for holobionts to acclimate and adapt to environmental change is unknown. Future studies should aim to identify the mechanisms underlying holobiont dynamics at multiple scales, from the microbiome to the ecosystem, and develop management strategies to preserve the key functions provided by the sponge holobiont in our present and future oceans.

Continue reading ‘The sponge holobiont in a changing ocean: from microbes to ecosystems’

Carbon dioxide addition to coral reef waters suppresses net community calcification

Coral reefs feed millions of people worldwide, provide coastal protection and generate billions of dollars annually in tourism revenue. The underlying architecture of a reef is a biogenic carbonate structure that accretes over many years of active biomineralization by calcifying organisms, including corals and algae. Ocean acidification poses a chronic threat to coral reefs by reducing the saturation state of the aragonite mineral of which coral skeletons are primarily composed, and lowering the concentration of carbonate ions required to maintain the carbonate reef. Reduced calcification, coupled with increased bioerosion and dissolution, may drive reefs into a state of net loss this century. Our ability to predict changes in ecosystem function and associated services ultimately hinges on our understanding of community- and ecosystem-scale responses. Past research has primarily focused on the responses of individual species rather than evaluating more complex, community-level responses. Here we use an in situ carbon dioxide enrichment experiment to quantify the net calcification response of a coral reef flat to acidification. We present an estimate of community-scale calcification sensitivity to ocean acidification that is, to our knowledge, the first to be based on a controlled experiment in the natural environment. This estimate provides evidence that near-future reductions in the aragonite saturation state will compromise the ecosystem function of coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Carbon dioxide addition to coral reef waters suppresses net community calcification’

Calcification in a marginal sea – influence of seawater [Ca2+] and carbonate chemistry on bivalve shell formation (update)

In estuarine coastal systems such as the Baltic Sea, mussels suffer from low salinity which limits their distribution. Anthropogenic climate change is expected to cause further desalination which will lead to local extinctions of mussels in the low saline areas. It is commonly accepted that mussel distribution is limited by osmotic stress. However, along the salinity gradient, environmental conditions for biomineralization are successively becoming more adverse as a result of reduced [Ca2+] and dissolved inorganic carbon (CT) availability. In larvae, calcification is an essential process starting during early development with formation of the prodissoconch I (PD I) shell, which is completed under optimal conditions within 2 days.

Experimental manipulations of seawater [Ca2+] start to impair PD I formation in Mytilus larvae at concentrations below 3 mM, which corresponds to conditions present in the Baltic at salinities below 8 g kg−1. In addition, lowering dissolved inorganic carbon to critical concentrations (< 1 mM) similarly affected PD I size, which was well correlated with calculated ΩAragonite and [Ca2+] [HCO3] ∕ [H+]in all treatments. Comparing results for larvae from the western Baltic with a population from the central Baltic revealed a significantly higher tolerance of PD I formation to lowered [Ca2+] and [Ca2+] [HCO3−] ∕ [H+][H+] in the low saline adapted population. This may result from genetic adaptation to the more adverse environmental conditions prevailing in the low saline areas of the Baltic.

The combined effects of lowered [Ca2+] and adverse carbonate chemistry represent major limiting factors for bivalve calcification and can thereby contribute to distribution limits of mussels in the Baltic Sea.

Continue reading ‘Calcification in a marginal sea – influence of seawater [Ca2+] and carbonate chemistry on bivalve shell formation (update)’

Aquatic acidification: a mechanism underpinning maintained oxygen transport and performance in fish experiencing elevated carbon dioxide conditions

Aquatic acidification, caused by elevating levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), is increasing in both freshwater and marine ecosystems worldwide. However, few studies have examined how acidification will affect oxygen (O2 ) transport and, therefore, performance in fishes. Although data are generally lacking, the majority of fishes investigated in this meta-analysis exhibited no effect of elevated CO2 at the level of O2 uptake, suggesting that they are able to maintain metabolic performance during a period of acidosis. Notably, the mechanisms that fish employ to maintain performance and O2 uptake have yet to be verified. Here, we summarize current data related to one recently proposed mechanism underpinning the maintenance of O2 uptake during exposure to aquatic acidification, and reveal knowledge gaps that could be targeted for future research. Most studies have examined O2 uptake rates while fishes were resting and did not calculate aerobic scope, even though aerobic scope can aid in predicting changes to whole-animal metabolic performance. Furthermore, research is lacking on different age classes, freshwater species and elasmobranchs, all of which might be impacted by future acidification conditions. Finally, this Review further seeks to emphasize the importance of developing collaborative efforts between molecular, physiological and ecological approaches in order to provide more comprehensive predictions as to how future fish populations will be affected by climate change.

Continue reading ‘Aquatic acidification: a mechanism underpinning maintained oxygen transport and performance in fish experiencing elevated carbon dioxide conditions’

Sensitivity of the regional ocean acidification and carbonate system in Puget Sound to ocean and freshwater inputs

While ocean acidification was first investigated as a global phenomenon, coastal acidification has received significant attention in recent years, as its impacts have been felt by different socio-economic sectors (e.g., high mortality of shellfish larvae in aquaculture farms). As a region that connects land and ocean, the Salish Sea (consisting of Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Georgia) receives inputs from many different sources (rivers, wastewater treatment plants, industrial waste treatment facilities, etc.), making these coastal waters vulnerable to acidification. Moreover, the lowering of pH in the Northeast Pacific Ocean also affects the Salish Sea, as more acidic waters get transported into the bottom waters of the straits and estuaries. Here, we use a numerical ocean model of the Salish Sea to improve our understanding of the carbonate system in Puget Sound; in particular, we studied the sensitivity of carbonate variables (e.g., dissolved inorganic carbon, total alkalinity, pH, saturation state of aragonite) to ocean and freshwater inputs. The model is an updated version of our FVCOM-ICM framework, with new carbonate-system and sediment modules. Sensitivity experiments altering concentrations at the open boundaries and freshwater sources indicate that not only ocean conditions entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but also the dilution of carbonate variables by freshwater sources, are key drivers of the carbonate system in Puget Sound.

Continue reading ‘Sensitivity of the regional ocean acidification and carbonate system in Puget Sound to ocean and freshwater inputs’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book