Archive for December, 2018

Phytoplankton responses to ocean climate change drivers: interaction of ocean warming, ocean acidification and UV exposure

Aquatic primary producers constitute only 1% of the global biomass, but their production equals that of all terrestrial ecosystems taken together (cf. Chapter 3, this volume). They take up a large fraction of anthropogenically emitted CO2, thereby mitigating climate change.

Continue reading ‘Phytoplankton responses to ocean climate change drivers: interaction of ocean warming, ocean acidification and UV exposure’

Les impacts de l’acidification des océans aggravent ceux de son réchauffement (in French)

Entre la fin du 19e siècle et aujourd’hui, les océans se sont réchauffés de 0,83°C. Ils ont aussi absorbé un quart du dioxyde de carbone (CO2) provenant des activités humaines, atténuant ainsi le réchauffement climatique. Mais ce grand service de diminution de l’effet de serre atmosphérique a comme prix leur acidification progressive…

Jean-Pierre Gattuso, Directeur de recherche au laboratoire d’océanographie de Villefranche et à Sorbonne Université répond à ces questions :

Continue reading ‘Les impacts de l’acidification des océans aggravent ceux de son réchauffement (in French)’

Best of 2018: Ocean acidification, marine ecosystems and navigating the seas of change (audio)

People behind the science: Dr Marie McNeely interviews Dr Tessa Hill, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Continue reading ‘Best of 2018: Ocean acidification, marine ecosystems and navigating the seas of change (audio)’

A continuous-flow and on-site mesocosm for ocean acidification experiments on benthic organisms

Mesocosm experiments conducted for ecological purposes have become increasingly popular because they can provide a holistic understanding of the biological complexities associated with natural systems. This paper describes a new outdoor mesocosm designed for CO2 perturbation experiments of benthos. Manipulated the carbonate chemistry in a continuous flow-through system can be parallelized with diurnal changes, while irradiance, temperature, and nutrients can vary according to the local environment. A target hydrogen ion activity (pH) of seawater was sufficiently stabilized and maintained within 4 h after dilution, which was initiated by the ratio of CO2-saturated seawater to ambient seawater. Specifically, pH and CO2partial pressure (pCO2) levels gradually varied from 8.05–7.28 and 375–2,691 μatm, respectively, over a range of dilution ratios. This mesocosm can successfully manipulate the pH and pCO2 of seawater, and it demonstrates suitability for ocean acidification experiments on benthic communities.

Continue reading ‘A continuous-flow and on-site mesocosm for ocean acidification experiments on benthic organisms’

The carbon dioxide vents of Ischia, Italy, a natural system to assess impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems: an overview of research and comparisons with other vent systems

As the ocean continues to take up carbon dioxide (CO2), it is difficult to predict the future of marine ecosystems. Natural CO2 vent sites, mainly of volcanic origin, that provide a pH gradient are useful as a proxy to investigate ecological effects of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘The carbon dioxide vents of Ischia, Italy, a natural system to assess impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems: an overview of research and comparisons with other vent systems’

Controls on carbonate system dynamics in a coastal plain estuary: a modelling study

The study of acidification in Chesapeake Bay is challenged by the complex spatial and temporal patterns of estuarine carbonate chemistry driven by highly variable freshwater and nutrient inputs. A new module was developed within an existing coupled hydrodynamic‐biogeochemical model to understand the underlying processes controlling variations in the carbonate system. We present a validation of the model against a diversity of field observations, which demonstrated the model’s ability to reproduce large‐scale carbonate chemistry dynamics of Chesapeake Bay. Analysis of model results revealed that hypoxia and acidification were observed to co‐occur in mid‐bay bottom waters and seasonal cycles in these metrics were regulated by aerobic respiration and vertical mixing. Calcium carbonate dissolution was an important buffering mechanism for pH changes in late summer, leading to stable or slightly higher pH values in this season despite persistent hypoxic conditions. Model results indicate a strong spatial gradient in air‐sea CO2 fluxes, where the heterotrophic upper bay was a strong CO2source to atmosphere, the mid bay was a net sink with much higher rates of net photosynthesis, and the lower bay was in a balanced condition. Scenario analysis revealed that reductions in riverine nutrient loading will decrease the acid water volume (pH <7.5) as a consequence of reduced organic matter generation and subsequent respiration, while bay‐wide dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) increased and pH declined under scenarios of continuous anthropogenic CO2 emission. This analysis underscores the complexity of carbonate system dynamics in a productive coastal plain estuary with large salinity gradients.

Continue reading ‘Controls on carbonate system dynamics in a coastal plain estuary: a modelling study’

Low pH reduced survival of the oyster Crassostrea gigas exposed to the Ostreid herpesvirus 1 by altering the metabolic response of the host

Highlights

  • The susceptibility of Crassostrea gigas to OsHV-1 increased at pH 7.8 in comparison to pH 8.1
  • The amount of OsHV-1 in oyster tissues was the same at both pH, suggesting the role of host metabolic response in differential survival
  • A lower activity of SOD and a basal activity of iNOS at pH 7.8, in comparison to pH 8.1, may have impaired the defence of oysters to OsHV-1 explaining the lower survival

Abstract

Environmental change in the marine realm has been accompanied by emerging diseases as new pathogens evolve to take advantage of hosts weakened by environmental stress. Here we investigated how an exposure to reduced seawater pH influenced the response of the oyster Crassostrea gigas to an infection by the Ostreid herpesvirus type I (OsHV-1). Oysters were acclimated at pH 8.1 or pH 7.8 and then exposed to OsHV-1. Their survival was monitored and oyster tissues were sampled for biochemical analyses. The survival of oysters exposed to OsHV-1 at pH 7.8 was lower (33.5%) than that of their counterparts at pH 8.1 (44.8%) whereas levels of OsHV-1 DNA were similar. Energetic reserves, fatty acid composition and prostaglandin levels in oyster did not vary consistently with pH, infection or their interactions. However, there was a reduction in the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in oysters at low pH, which is associated with the observed difference in survival.

Continue reading ‘Low pH reduced survival of the oyster Crassostrea gigas exposed to the Ostreid herpesvirus 1 by altering the metabolic response of the host’

Bottom-up effects on biomechanical properties of the skeletal plates of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Lamarck, 1816) in an acidified ocean scenario

Highlights

  • Biomechanical properties of sea urchin test have a great importance in their individual fitness.
  • Combined effect of decreased pH and macroalgal diet highlights potential cascading effects.
  • No direct short-term effect of decreased pH and macroalgal diet on plate mechanical properties.
  • Longer term exposure needed to observe substantial differences on skeletal plate structure.

Abstract

Sea urchins, ecologically important herbivores of shallow subtidal temperate reefs, are considered particularly threatened in a future ocean acidification scenario, since their carbonate structures (skeleton and grazing apparatus) are made up of the very soluble high-magnesium calcite, particularly sensitive to a decrease in pH. The biomechanical properties of their skeletal structures are of great importance for their individual fitness, because the skeleton provides the means for locomotion, grazing and protection from predators. Sea urchin skeleton is composed of discrete calcite plates attached to each other at sutures by organic ligaments. The present study addressed the fate of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Lamarck, 1816) skeleton in acidified oceans, taking into account the combined effect of reduced pH and macroalgal diet, with potential cascading consequences at the ecosystem level. A breaking test on individual plates of juvenile specimens fed different macroalgal diets has been performed, teasing apart plate strength and stiffness from general robustness. Results showed no direct short-term effect of a decrease in seawater pH nor of the macroalgal diet on single plate mechanical properties. Nevertheless, results from apical plates, the ones presumably formed during the experimental period, provided an indication of a possible diet-mediated response, with sea urchins fed the more calcified macroalga sustaining higher forces before breakage than the one fed the non-calcified algae. This, on the long term, may produce bottom-up effects on sea urchins, leading to potential shifts in the ecosystem equilibrium under an ocean acidified scenario.

Continue reading ‘Bottom-up effects on biomechanical properties of the skeletal plates of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Lamarck, 1816) in an acidified ocean scenario’

Divergent responses of Atlantic cod to ocean acidification and food limitation

In order to understand the effect of global change on marine fishes, it is imperative to quantify the effects on fundamental parameters such as survival and growth. Larval survival and recruitment of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) was found to be heavily impaired by end‐of‐century levels of ocean acidification. Here, we analysed larval growth among 35‐36 days old surviving larvae, along with organ development and ossification of the skeleton. We combined CO2‐treatments (ambient: 503 μatm, elevated: 1179 μatm) with food availability in order to evaluate the effect of energy limitation in addition to the ocean acidification stressor. As expected, larval size (as a proxy for growth) and skeletogenesis were positively affected by high food availability. We found significant interactions between acidification and food availability. Larvae fed ad libitum showed little difference in growth and skeletogenesis due to the CO2 treatment. Larvae under energy limitation were significantly larger and had further developed skeletal structures in the elevated CO2 treatment compared to the ambient CO2 treatment. However, the elevated CO2 group revealed impairments in critically important organs, such as the liver, and had comparatively smaller functional gills indicating a mismatch between size and function. It is therefore likely that individual larvae that had survived acidification treatments, will suffer from impairments later during ontogeny. Our study highlights important allocation trade‐off between growth and organ development, which is critically important to interpret acidification effects on early life‐stages of fish.

Continue reading ‘Divergent responses of Atlantic cod to ocean acidification and food limitation’

Stanford takes students on virtual undersea journey (text and video)

On a recent day, a researcher was walking on the ocean floor, peering around at coral, urchins and picking up sea snails, turning them over in the palm of her glove to closely inspect them. The only catch: the explorer was actually in a dark, windowless room on the Stanford University campus pawing at the air.

The semi-departure from reality was a demonstration of a new virtual reality simulation under development by Stanford researchers aimed at teaching high school students about climate change. The team’s new virtual reality program teaches students about ocean acidification, the scientific concept where carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is increasing the acidity of the world’s oceans to the detriment of sea life.

“In school, environmental education is a difficult topic because it’s difficult to bring the kids to the ocean or even underwater,” said Stanford researcher Geraldine Fauville.

Continue reading ‘Stanford takes students on virtual undersea journey (text and video)’


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