Ocean acidification can affect seaweed and humans (podcast)

Ocean Acidification is usually discussed with the subjects of calcium based animals such as Corals, mussels and snails as they need Calcium to build their shells. Calcium will not be available as there is more CO2 in the Ocean. However, not all living Ocean beings will be negatively affected. Plants such as Seaweeds are predicted to thrive.

Many sushi lovers will breathe a sigh of relief at this news, but there is cautioned thrown their way. A new study was recently conducted on how the iodine levels in seaweed, and its consumers, will be affected in the presence of elevated CO2 levels as future IPCC reports suggest.

Iodine is important to humans as it regulates the thyroid hormones in your body. Too little or too much iodine could have serious effects on the body that could decrease human and animal health.

The results show consumers (fish and molluscs) that ate seaweed under increased CO2 conditions possessed elevated iodine concentrations, which means humans will be required to monitor the iodine levels in seaweed in the future to ensure it does not decrease the health in humans.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification can affect seaweed and humans (podcast)’

Low and variable pH decreases recruitment efficiency in populations of a temperate coral naturally present at a CO2 vent

Atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment alters seawater carbonate chemistry, thus threatening calcifying organisms such as corals. Coral populations at carbon dioxide vents are natural acidification experiments that mimic organism responses to seawater pH values projected for 2100. Even if demographic traits are paramount information to assess ecological relationships and habitat suitability, population dynamics studies on corals thriving under acidified conditions are lacking. Here, we investigate the demography and reproduction of populations of the solitary, symbiotic, temperate coral Balanophyllia europaea naturally living along a pH gradient at a Mediterranean CO2 vent. Gametogenesis and larval production were unaffected while recruitment efficiency collapsed at low and variable pH, contributing to coral abundance decline and suggesting that life stages between larval release and early polyp growth are hindered by acidification. Exploring these processes is crucial to assess coral fate in the forthcoming acidified oceans, to preserve coral ecosystems and the socioeconomic services they provide.

Continue reading ‘Low and variable pH decreases recruitment efficiency in populations of a temperate coral naturally present at a CO2 vent’

Individual and combined effects of low dissolved oxygen and low pH on survival of early stage larval blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus

A large number of coastal ecosystems globally are subjected to concurrent hypoxic and acidified conditions that will likely intensify and expand with continued climate change. In temperate regions, the spawning of many important organisms including the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus occurs during the summer months when the severity of coastal hypoxia and acidification is the greatest. While the blue crab earliest larval stage can be exposed to co-occurring hypoxia and acidification observed in many coastal ecosystems, the effects of these concurrent stressors on larval blue crab survival is unknown. This study investigated the individual and combined consequences of low dissolved oxygen (DO) and low pH on blue crab larvae survival through a series of short-term experiments. During 14-day experiments with moderately hypoxic conditions (117–127 μM O2 or 3.74–4.06 mg L-1) and acidified conditions (pH on total scale of 7.16–7.33), low DO and low pH individually and significantly reduced larval survival by 60% and 49%, respectively, with the combination of stressors reducing survival by 87% compared to the control treatment (210–269 μM O2 or 6.72–8.61 mg L-1, 7.91–7.94 DO and pH, respectively). During 4-day experiments with lower DO levels (68–83 μM O2 or 2.18–2.62 mg L-1) and comparable pH levels of 7.29–7.39, low DO individually reduced survival by >90% compared to the control (261–267 μM O2 or 8.35–8.54 mg L-1, 7.92–7.97 DO and pH, respectively), whereas low pH had no effect and there was no interaction between stressors. Over a 4-day period, the DO threshold at which 50% of the larval blue crab population died (LC50) was 121 μM O2 (3.86 mgL-1). In 14-day experiments, the DO and pH effects were additive, yielding survival rates lower than the individual treatments, and significantly correlated with DO and pH concentrations. Collectively, these findings indicate that blue crab sensitivity to both low DO and low pH are acute within the larval stage, depend on the intensity and duration of exposure, and leads to mortality, thereby potentially contributing to the interannual variability and possible regional declines of this fishery.

Continue reading ‘Individual and combined effects of low dissolved oxygen and low pH on survival of early stage larval blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus’

Sensory system responses to human-induced environmental change

Sensory input to the central nervous system is the primary means by which animals respond to variation in their physical and biological environments. It is well established that key threats such as habitat destruction, the introduction of non-native species, and climate change are imposing significant pressures on natural ecosystems, yet surprisingly few studies have examined how these threats impact the senses or determine species’ responses to environmental change. This review focuses on how anthropogenic impacts on aquatic ecosystems can have a detrimental effect on the sensory systems of aquatic organisms and how these modalities can act to influence genetic and non-genetic (e.g., developmental) responses to environmental change, which in turn can cause knock-on effects in a range of other biological systems. Species often exhibit unique sensory specializations that are suited to their behavioral requirements; at present it is unclear whether and how sensory systems have the capacity to respond to environmental change through genetic adaptation and/or sensory plasticity, and on what timescale this might occur. Sensory systems lie at the forefront of how various species respond to environmental perturbation. As such, determining the important role they play in determining fitness is critical for understanding the effects of external processes such as habitat degradation and climate change. Given the current consensus that human impacts and environmental changes are potentially highly detrimental to the delicate balance of the biome, knowing how organisms respond, and to what degree adaptation is physiologically and behaviorally limited, warrants urgent attention.

Continue reading ‘Sensory system responses to human-induced environmental change’

USP’S Emalus campus introduces ocean acidification monitoring in Vanuatu


Researchers from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus and University of Otago (UO) (New Zealand) organised a weeklong workshop from 19 – 23 November to introduce Ocean Acidification in Vanuatu.

The workshop was funded by The Ocean Foundation from the United States of America, as part of the installation of the Ocean Acidification Monitoring – GOA-ON in Box Kit for the monitoring of acidification levels (pH) in Vanuatu shores.

Continue reading ‘USP’S Emalus campus introduces ocean acidification monitoring in Vanuatu’

Distinct bleaching resilience of photosynthetic plastid-bearing mollusks under thermal stress and high CO2 conditions

The impact of temperature on photo-symbiotic relationships has been highly studied in the tropical reef-forming corals but overlooked in less charismatic groups such as solar-powered sacoglossan sea slugs. These organisms display one of the most puzzling symbiotic features observed in the animal kingdom, i.e., their mollusk-plastid association, which enables them to retain photosynthetic active chloroplasts (i.e., kleptoplasts) retrieved from their algae feed sources. Here we analyze the impact of thermal stress (+4∘C) and high pCO2 conditions (ΔpH = 0.4) in survival, photophysiology (i.e., bleaching, photosynthetic efficiency, and metabolism) and stress defense mechanisms (i.e., heat shock and antioxidant response) of solar-powered sacoglossan sea slugs, from tropical (Elysia crispata) and temperate (E. viridis) environments. High temperature was the main factor affecting the survival of both species, while pH only affected the survival of the temperate model. The photobiology of E. viridis remained stable under the combined scenario, while photoinhibition was observed for E. crispata under high temperature and high pCO2. In fact, bleaching was observed within all tropical specimens exposed to warming (but not in the temperate ones), which constitutes the first report where the incidence of bleaching in tropical animals hosting photosynthetic symbionts, other than corals, occurs. Yet, the expulsion of kleptoplasts by the tropical sea slug, allied with metabolic depression, constituted a physiological response that did not imply signs of vulnerability (i.e., mortality) in the host itself. Although the temperate species revealed greater heat shock and antioxidant enzyme response to environmental stress, we argue that the tropical (stenotherm) sea slug species may display a greater scope for acclimatization than the temperate (eurytherm) sea slug. E. crispata may exhibit increased capacity for phenotypic plasticity by increasing fitness in a much narrower thermal niche (minimizing maintenance costs), which ultimately may allow to face severe environmental conditions more effectively than its temperate generalist counterpart (E. viridis).

Continue reading ‘Distinct bleaching resilience of photosynthetic plastid-bearing mollusks under thermal stress and high CO2 conditions’

Stanford researchers uncover startling insights into how human-generated carbon dioxide could reshape oceans

Something peculiar is happening in the azure waters off the rocky cliffs of Ischia, Italy. There, streams of gas-filled volcanic bubbles rising up to the surface are radically changing life around them by making seawater acidic. Stanford researchers studying species living near these gassy vents have learned what it takes to survive in acidic waters, providing a glimpse of what future oceans might look like as they grow more acidic.

Their findings, published December 11 in Nature Communications, suggest that ocean acidification driven by human-caused carbon dioxide emissions could have a larger impact than previously thought.

“When an organism’s environment becomes more acidic, it can dramatically impact not only that species, but the overall ecosystem’s resilience, function and stability,” said Stanford marine biologist Fiorenza Micheli, lead author on the paper. “These transformations ultimately impact people, especially our food chains.”

Continue reading ‘Stanford researchers uncover startling insights into how human-generated carbon dioxide could reshape oceans’


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OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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