Archive for January, 2017

Stakeholder perceptions of links between environmental changes to their socio-ecological system and their adaptive capacity in the region of Troms, Norway

Climate change affects the marine environment at all levels of governance. At a global level, researchers expect the projected increase in sea surface temperature to facilitate large changes in the marine food web, which in turn will affect both global fisheries and aquaculture. At the local level, government and stakeholders want to know whether and how this affects their local communities and their adaptive capacity in light of this. Research suggests that risk communication of the effects of changes in the marine food web suffers from stakeholders’ short-term mentality and narrow boundaries. This in turn can lead to an underestimation of the potential risks associated with climate change. We explore this theory by mapping the perceptions of marine stakeholders in the region of Troms, Norway. We first developed cognitive maps in a workshop setting, and then used system conceptualization to analyze the feedback mechanisms of the system qualitatively using fuzzy cognitive mapping. We examined the outcomes and compared them for different scenarios using a simple MatLab script. Results demonstrated that stakeholders did not underestimate their risks to climate change. They were aware of environmental changes, and they perceived that a changing climate was the cause of this change, and that it was indeed affecting their livelihoods—and would continue to do so in the future.

Continue reading ‘Stakeholder perceptions of links between environmental changes to their socio-ecological system and their adaptive capacity in the region of Troms, Norway’

Painted goby larvae under high-CO2 fail to recognize reef sounds

Atmospheric CO2 levels have been increasing at an unprecedented rate due to anthropogenic activity. Consequently, ocean pCO2 is increasing and pH decreasing, affecting marine life, including fish. For many coastal marine fishes, selection of the adult habitat occurs at the end of the pelagic larval phase. Fish larvae use a range of sensory cues, including sound, for locating settlement habitat. This study tested the effect of elevated CO2 on the ability of settlement-stage temperate fish to use auditory cues from adult coastal reef habitats. Wild late larval stages of painted goby (Pomatoschistus pictus) were exposed to control pCO2 (532 μatm, pH 8.06) and high pCO2 (1503 μatm, pH 7.66) conditions, likely to occur in nearshore regions subjected to upwelling events by the end of the century, and tested in an auditory choice chamber for their preference or avoidance to nighttime reef recordings. Fish reared in control pCO2 conditions discriminated reef soundscapes and were attracted by reef recordings. This behaviour changed in fish reared in the high CO2 conditions, with settlement-stage larvae strongly avoiding reef recordings. This study provides evidence that ocean acidification might affect the auditory responses of larval stages of temperate reef fish species, with potentially significant impacts on their survival.

Continue reading ‘Painted goby larvae under high-CO2 fail to recognize reef sounds’

Light and temperature control physiological responses of Halimeda to ocean acidification

The oceans have absorbed excess carbon dioxide (CO2) resulting from anthropogenic activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. As a result, seawater chemistry has shifted causing an increase in bicarbonate ions (HCO32-) and hydrogen ions (H+) and leading to a reduction in carbonate (CO32-) concentration. This shift in seawater chemistry leads to a decrease in aragonite saturation state and pH. Eventually, the ocean will accumulate most of the extra CO2 produced over many years resulting in extreme acidified conditions where aragonite saturation levels will not support the chemical process of calcification that is vital to marine calcifiers. This thesis investigates the combined effects of elevated pCO2 with temperature and light on the calcification and photosynthesis of the green calcareous algae Halimeda. Halimeda, is a major contributor to sediment production for coral reef accretion and island reef formation. Based on carbonate data from biologists and geologists it is estimated that vertical accretion of CaCO3 by Halimeda ranges between 0.18 to 5.9 m in 1000 years. The role that light plays in the coupling between photosynthesis and calcification in Halimeda macroloba was investigated experimentally through a combination of two pCO2 levels (360 and 1200 uatm) and three irradiances (80, 150, and 595 μmol quanta m-2 s-1). A decrease in calcification at low light intensity and elevated pCO2 suggests that light is a limiting factor for the physiology of H. macroloba. The effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on the photosynthesis and calcification of Halimeda incrassata were tested through two experiments using two pCO2 levels (390 and 900 uatm) and four temperatures (26, 29, 30 and 34 °C). Elevated temperature can mitigate the effects Ocean Acidification (OA) in H. incrassata. An estimate of current carbonate production by H. incrassata in Key Biscayne Florida Lagoon was obtained from biomass, CaCO3 content and turnover rate. Calcification rates from laboratory experiments were used to estimate future (200 years from now) seasonal carbonate production rates, which were then compared against current summer carbonate production. Future summer carbonate production rates were not affected by elevated pCO2 in relationship to current summer carbonate production. Elevated temperatures ~2 °C above summer maximum average could promote calcification of H. incrassata under ocean acidification conditions and, therefore, overall carbonate production of the reef. Results throughout the thesis revealed that the tolerance of the green calcareous algae Halimeda to OA could change depending on light and temperature conditions. In a more acidic future ocean, growth rates and sediment production of Halimeda will be affected under low light and temperature and will be enhanced under high light and and moderate elevated temperatures.

Continue reading ‘Light and temperature control physiological responses of Halimeda to ocean acidification’

Biomarker response of climate change-induced ocean acidification and hypercapnia studies on brachyurian crab Portunus pelagicus

A laboratory level microcosm analysis of the impacts of ocean acidification on the environmental stress biomarkers in Portunus pelagicus (Linneaus 1758)exposed to a series of pH regimes expected in the year 2100 (pH 7.5 and 7.0) and leakage from a sub-seabed carbon dioxide storage site (pH 6.5 – 5.5) was carried out. Levels of the antioxidant enzyme catalase, the phase II detoxification enzyme, glutathione S. transferase, the lipid peroxidation biomarker, malondialdehyde, acetylcholinesterase, and reduced glutathione were estimated in the tissues of the exposed animals to validate theses enzymes as biomarkers of Hypercapnia. The integrated biomarkers indicated a stress full environment in all animals except those exposed to the control seawater (pH 8.1). The reducing pH was also observed to be highly lethal to the animals exposed to lower pH levels which were obvious from the rate of mortality in a short term of exposure. The present study substantiates the role of biomarkers as an early warning of ocean acidification at a sub-lethal level.

Continue reading ‘Biomarker response of climate change-induced ocean acidification and hypercapnia studies on brachyurian crab Portunus pelagicus’

Insignificant effects of elevated CO2 on bacterioplankton community in a eutrophic coastal mesocosm experiment

There is increasing concern about the effects of ocean acidification on marine biogeochemical and ecological processes and the organisms that drive them, including marine bacteria. Here, we examine the effects of elevated CO2 on bacterioplankton community during a mesocosm experiment using an artificial phytoplankton community in subtropical, eutrophic coastal waters of Xiamen, Southern China. We found that the elevated CO2 hardly altered the network structure of the bacterioplankton taxa present with high abundance but appeared to reassemble the community network of taxa present with low abundance by sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene V3-V4 region and ecological network analysis. This led to relatively high resilience of the whole bacterioplankton community to the elevated CO2 level and associated chemical changes. We also observed that the Flavobacteriia group, which plays an important role in the microbial carbon pump, showed higher relative abundance under elevated CO2 condition during the developing stage of the phytoplankton bloom in the mesocosms. Compared to the CO2 enrichment, the phytoplankton bloom had more pronounced effects on baterioplankton community structure. Our results suggest that the bacterioplankton community in this subtropical, high nutrient coastal environment is relatively insensitive to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry.

Continue reading ‘Insignificant effects of elevated CO2 on bacterioplankton community in a eutrophic coastal mesocosm experiment’

Unexpected result: Ocean acidification can also promote shell formation

Fact: More carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air also acidifies the oceans. It seemed to be the logical conclusion that shellfish and corals will suffer, because chalk formation becomes more difficult in more acidic seawater. But now a group of Dutch and Japanese scientists discovered to their own surprise that some tiny unicellular shellfish make better shells in an acidic environment. This is a completely new insight.

Researchers from the NIOZ (Royal Dutch Institute for Sea Research) and JAMSTEC (Japanese Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) found in their experiments that so-called foraminifera might even make their shells better in more acidic water. These single-celled foraminifera shellfish occur in huge numbers in the oceans. The results of the study are published in the leading scientific journal Nature Communications.

Since 1750 the acidity of the ocean has increased by 30%. According to the prevailing theory and related experiments with calcareous algae and shellfish, limestone (calcium carbonate) dissolves more easily in acidic water. The formation of lime by shellfish and corals is more difficult because less carbonate is available under acidic conditions. The carbonate-ion relates directly to dissolved carbon dioxide via two chemical equilibrium reactions.

Continue reading ‘Unexpected result: Ocean acidification can also promote shell formation’

Proton pumping accompanies calcification in foraminifera

Ongoing ocean acidification is widely reported to reduce the ability of calcifying marine organisms to produce their shells and skeletons. Whereas increased dissolution due to acidification is a largely inorganic process, strong organismal control over biomineralization influences calcification and hence complicates predicting the response of marine calcifyers. Here we show that calcification is driven by rapid transformation of bicarbonate into carbonate inside the cytoplasm, achieved by active outward proton pumping. Moreover, this proton flux is maintained over a wide range of pCO2 levels. We furthermore show that a V-type H+ ATPase is responsible for the proton flux and thereby calcification. External transformation of bicarbonate into CO2 due to the proton pumping implies that biomineralization does not rely on availability of carbonate ions, but total dissolved CO2 may not reduce calcification, thereby potentially maintaining the current global marine carbonate production.

Continue reading ‘Proton pumping accompanies calcification in foraminifera’

Effects of CO2-driven sediment acidification on infaunal marine bivalves: A synthesis

While ocean acidification (OA) effects on marine organisms are well documented, impacts of sediment acidification on infaunal organisms are relatively understudied. Here we synthesize CO2-driven sediment acidification effects on infaunal marine bivalves. While sediment carbonate system conditions can already exceed near-future OA projections, sediments can become even more acidic as overlying seawater pH decreases. Evidence suggests that infaunal bivalves experience shell dissolution, more lesions, and increased mortality in more acidic sediments; effects on heavy metal accumulation appear complex and uncertain. Infaunal bivalves can avoid negative functional consequences of sediment acidification by reducing burrowing and increasing dispersal in more acidic sediments, irrespective of species or life stage; elevated temperature may compromise this avoidance behaviour. The combined effects of sediment acidification and other environmental stressors are virtually unknown. While it is evident that sediment acidification can impact infaunal marine bivalves, more research is needed to confidently predict effects under future ocean conditions.

Continue reading ‘Effects of CO2-driven sediment acidification on infaunal marine bivalves: A synthesis’

Ciliate and mesozooplankton community response to increasing CO2 levels in the Baltic Sea: insights from a large-scale mesocosm experiment (update)

Community approaches to investigating ocean acidification (OA) effects suggest a high tolerance of micro- and mesozooplankton to carbonate chemistry changes expected to occur within this century. Plankton communities in the coastal areas of the Baltic Sea frequently experience pH variations partly exceeding projections for the near future both on a diurnal and seasonal basis. We conducted a large-scale mesocosm CO2 enrichment experiment ( ∼  55 m3) enclosing the natural plankton community in Tvärminne–Storfjärden for 8 weeks during June–August 2012 and studied community and species–taxon response of ciliates and mesozooplankton to CO2 elevations expected for this century. In addition to the response to fCO2, we also considered temperature and chlorophyll a variations in our analyses. Shannon diversity of ciliates significantly decreased with fCO2 and temperature with a greater dominance of smaller species. The mixotrophic Myrionecta rubra seemed to indirectly and directly benefit from higher CO2 concentrations in the post-bloom phase through increased occurrence of picoeukaryotes (most likely Cryptophytes) and Dinophyta at higher CO2 levels. With respect to mesozooplankton, we did not detect significant effects for either total abundance or for Shannon diversity. The cladocera Bosmina sp. occurred at distinctly higher abundance for a short time period during the second half of the experiment in three of the CO2-enriched mesocosms except for the highest CO2 level. The ratio of Bosmina sp. with empty to embryo- or resting-egg-bearing brood chambers, however, was significantly affected by CO2, temperature, and chlorophyll a. An indirect CO2 effect via increased food availability (Cyanobacteria) stimulating Bosmina sp. reproduction cannot be ruled out. Although increased regenerated primary production diminishes trophic transfer in general, the presence of organisms able to graze on bacteria such as cladocerans may positively impact organic matter transfer to higher trophic levels. Thus, under increasing OA in cladoceran-dominated mesozooplankton communities, the importance of the microbial loop in the pelagic zone may be temporarily enhanced and carbon transfer to higher trophic levels may be stimulated.

Continue reading ‘Ciliate and mesozooplankton community response to increasing CO2 levels in the Baltic Sea: insights from a large-scale mesocosm experiment (update)’

New tool helps oyster growers prepare for changing ocean chemistry

For Bill Mook, coastal acidification is one thing his oyster hatchery cannot afford to ignore.

Mook Sea Farm depends on seawater from the Gulf of Maine pumped into a Quonset hut-style building where tiny oysters are grown in tanks. Mook sells these tiny oysters to other oyster farmers or transfers them to his oyster farm on the Damariscotta River where they grow large enough to sell to restaurants and markets on the East Coast.

The global ocean has soaked up one third of human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since the start of the Industrial Era, increasing the CO2 and acidity of seawater. Increased seawater acidity reduces available carbonate, the building blocks used by shellfish to grow their shells. Rain washing fertilizer and other nutrients into nearshore waters can also increase ocean acidity.

Back in 2013, Mook teamed up with fisherman-turned-oceanographer Joe Salisbury of the University of New Hampshire to understand how changing seawater chemistry may hamper the growth and survival of oysters in his hatchery and oyster farm.

Continue reading ‘New tool helps oyster growers prepare for changing ocean chemistry’


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