Archive for June, 2020

Plasticity of adult coralline algae to prolonged increased temperature and pCO2 exposure but reduced survival in their first generation

Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are vital to coral reefs worldwide, providing structural integrity and inducing the settlement of important invertebrate larvae. CCA are known to be impacted by changes in their environment, both during early development and adulthood. However, long-term studies on either life history stage are lacking in the literature, therefore not allowing time to explore the acclimatory or potential adaptive responses of CCA to future global change scenarios. Here, we exposed a widely distributed, slow growing, species of CCA, Sporolithon cf. durum, to elevated temperature and pCO2 for five months and their first set of offspring (F1) for eleven weeks. Survival, reproductive output, and metabolic rate were measured in adult S. cf. durum, and survival and growth were measured in the F1 generation. Adult S. cf. durum experienced 0% mortality across treatments and reduced their O2 production after five months exposure to global stressors, indicating a possible expression of plasticity. In contrast, the combined stressors of elevated temperature and pCO2 resulted in 50% higher mortality and 61% lower growth on germlings. On the other hand, under the independent elevated pCO2 treatment, germling growth was higher than all other treatments. These results show the robustness and plasticity of S. cf. durum adults, indicating the potential for them to acclimate to increased temperature and pCO2. However, the germlings of this species are highly sensitive to global stressors and this could negatively impact this species in future oceans, and ultimately the structure and stability of coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Plasticity of adult coralline algae to prolonged increased temperature and pCO2 exposure but reduced survival in their first generation’

Mapping cumulative impacts to coastal ecosystem services in British Columbia

Ecosystem services are impacted through restricting service supply, through limiting people from accessing services, and by affecting the quality of services. We map cumulative impacts to 8 different ecosystem services in coastal British Columbia using InVEST models, spatial data, and expert elicitation to quantify risk to each service from anthropogenic activities. We find that impact to service access and quality as well as impact to service supply results in greater severity of impact and a greater diversity of causal processes of impact than only considering impact to service supply. This suggests that limiting access to services and impacts to service quality may be important and understanding these kinds of impacts may complement our knowledge of impacts to biophysical systems that produce services. Some ecosystem services are at greater risk from climate stressors while others face greater risk from local activities. Prominent causal pathways of impact include limiting access and affecting quality. Mapping cumulative impacts to ecosystem services can yield rich insights, including highlighting areas of high impact and understanding causes of impact, and should be an essential management tool to help maintain the flow of services we benefit from.

Continue reading ‘Mapping cumulative impacts to coastal ecosystem services in British Columbia’

Ocean acidification and human health

The ocean provides resources key to human health and well-being, including food, oxygen, livelihoods, blue spaces, and medicines. The global threat to these resources posed by accelerating ocean acidification is becoming increasingly evident as the world’s oceans absorb carbon dioxide emissions. While ocean acidification was initially perceived as a threat only to the marine realm, here we argue that it is also an emerging human health issue. Specifically, we explore how ocean acidification affects the quantity and quality of resources key to human health and well-being in the context of: (1) malnutrition and poisoning, (2) respiratory issues, (3) mental health impacts, and (4) development of medical resources. We explore mitigation and adaptation management strategies that can be implemented to strengthen the capacity of acidifying oceans to continue providing human health benefits. Importantly, we emphasize that the cost of such actions will be dependent upon the socioeconomic context; specifically, costs will likely be greater for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, exacerbating the current inequitable distribution of environmental and human health challenges. Given the scale of ocean acidification impacts on human health and well-being, recognizing and researching these complexities may allow the adaptation of management such that not only are the harms to human health reduced but the benefits enhanced.

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Here’s how climate change affects this ‘living dinosaur’ on B.C.’s coast

Glass sponges in Howe Sound (c) Adam Taylor, MLSS

Glass sponges in Howe Sound. Photo: Adam Taylor/MLSS.

In order to feed, the mammoth sea dwellers pump sea water through their bodies, filtering almost 80 per cent of microbes and particles and expelling clean water.

They might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word ‘dinosaur,’ but B.C.’s glass sponge reefs were thought to be extinct for an astounding 40 million years before they were re-discovered in B.C. in 1986.

But these ancient aquatic creatures face an imminent threat.

According to new research from the University of British Columbia, “warming ocean temperatures and acidification drastically reduce the skeletal strength and filter-feeding capacity of glass sponges.”

Continue reading ‘Here’s how climate change affects this ‘living dinosaur’ on B.C.’s coast’

ARIOS: An acidification ocean database for the Iberian Upwelling Ecosystem (1976–2018)

A data product of 17,653 discrete samples from 3,357 oceanographic stations combining measurements of pH, alkalinity and other biogeochemical parameters off the North-western Iberian Peninsula from June 1976 to September 2018 is presented in this study. The oceanography cruises funded by 24 projects were primarily carried out in the Ría de Vigo coastal inlet, but also in an area ranging from the Bay of Biscay to the Portuguese coast. The robust seasonal cycles and long-term trends were only calculated along a longitudinal section, gathering data from the coastal and oceanic zone of the Iberian Upwelling System. The pH in the surface waters of these separated regions, which were highly variable due to intense photosynthesis and the remineralization of organic matter, showed an interannual acidification ranging from −0.0016 yr−1 to −0.0032 yr−1 that grew towards the coastline. This result is obtained despite the buffering capacity increasing in the coastal waters further inland as shown by the increase in alkalinity by 1.1±0.7 μmol kg−1 yr−1 and 2.6±1.0 μmol kg−1 yr−1 in the inner and outer Ría de Vigo respectively, driven by interannual changes in the surface salinity of 0.0193±0.0056 psu yr−1 and 0.0426±0.016 psu yr−1 respectively. The loss of the vertical salinity gradient in the long-term trend in the inner ria was consistent with other significant biogeochemical changes such as a lower oxygen concentration and fertilization of the surface waters. These findings seem to be related to a growing footprint of sediment remineralization of organic matter in the surface layer of a more homogeneous water column. Data are available at: (Pérez et al., 2020).

Continue reading ‘ARIOS: An acidification ocean database for the Iberian Upwelling Ecosystem (1976–2018)’

The impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and reliant human communities

Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, from fossil fuel combustion and deforestation, along with agriculture and land-use practices are causing wholesale increases in seawater CO2 and inorganic carbon levels; reductions in pH; and alterations in acid-base chemistry of estuarine, coastal, and surface open-ocean waters. On the basis of laboratory experiments and field studies of naturally elevated CO2 marine environments, widespread biological impacts of human-driven ocean acidification have been posited, ranging from changes in organism physiology and population dynamics to altered communities and ecosystems. Acidification, in conjunction with other climate change–related environmental stresses, particularly under future climate change and further elevated atmospheric CO2 levels, potentially puts at risk many of the valuable ecosystem services that the ocean provides to society, such as fisheries, aquaculture, and shoreline protection. This review emphasizes both current scientific understanding and knowledge gaps, highlighting directions for future research and recognizing the information needs of policymakers and stakeholders.

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Effects of seawater salinity and pH on cellular metabolism and enzyme activities in biomineralizing tissues of marine bivalves


•Effects of salinity and pH on cellular metabolism were studied in bivalves.

•Biomineralizing cells had robust metabolism in the studied salinity and pH range.

•Oxygen consumption and protein synthesis rates declined at low pH.

•Na+/K+ ATPase activity increased at low salinity.

•H+ and Ca2+ transport activities were little affected by salinity and pH variation.


Molluscan shell formation is a complex energy demanding process sensitive to the shifts in seawater CaCO3 saturation due to changes in salinity and pH. We studied the effects of salinity and pH on energy demand and enzyme activities of biomineralizing cells of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and the hard-shell clam (Mercenaria mercenaria). Adult animals were exposed for 14 days to high (30), intermediate (18), or low (10) salinity at either high (8.0-8.2) or low (7.8) pH. Basal metabolic cost as well as the energy cost of the biomineralization-related cellular processes were determined in isolated mantle edge cells and hemocytes. The total metabolic rates were similar in the hemocytes of the two studied species, but considerably higher in the mantle cells of C. gigas compared with those of M. mercenaria. Cellular respiration was unaffected by salinity in the clams’ cells, while in oysters’ cells the highest respiration rate was observed at intermediate salinity (18). In both studied species, low pH suppressed cellular respiration. Low pH led to an upregulation of Na+/K+ ATPase activity in biomineralizing cells of oysters and clams. Activities of Ca2+ ATPase and H+ ATPase, as well as the cellular energy costs of Ca2+ and H+ transport in the biomineralizing cells were insensitive to the variation in salinity and pH in the clams and oysters. Species-specific variability in cellular response to low salinity and pH indicates that the disturbance of shell formation under these conditions has different underlying mechanisms in the two studied species.

Continue reading ‘Effects of seawater salinity and pH on cellular metabolism and enzyme activities in biomineralizing tissues of marine bivalves’

Acclimation history modulates effect size of calcareous algae (Halimeda opuntia) to herbicide exposure under future climate scenarios


•Calcifying algae were exposed to herbicide and future climate scenarios combined.

•Half of the algae were given long acclimation to future climate-change conditions.

•Experimental effects were exaggerated for algae that were not acclimated.

•Still, herbicide effects on acclimated algae stronger in future climate conditions

•Results show the need of climate-adjusted thresholds for water quality guidelines.


Tropical marine habitat-builders such as calcifying green algae can be susceptible to climate change (warming and acidification). This study evaluated the cumulative effects of ocean warming (OW), ocean acidification (OA) and the herbicide diuron on the calcifying green algae Halimeda opuntia. We also assessed the influence of acclimation history to experimental climate change conditions on physiological responses. H. opuntia were exposed for 15 days to orthogonal combinations of three climate scenarios [ambient (28 °C, pCO2 = 378 ppm), 2050 (29 °C, pCO2 = 567 ppm) and 2100 (30 °C, pCO2 = 721 ppm)] and to six diuron concentrations (up to 29 μg L−1). Half of the H. opuntia had been acclimated for eight months to the climate scenarios in a mesocosm approach, while the remaining half were not pre-acclimated, as is current practice in most experiments. Climate effects on quantum yield (ΔF/Fm′), photosynthesis and calcification in future climate scenarios were significantly stronger (by −24, −46 and +26%, respectively) in non-acclimated algae, suggesting experimental bias may exaggerate effects in organisms not appropriately acclimated to future-climate conditions. Thus, full analysis was done on acclimated plants only. Interactive effects of future climate scenarios and diuron were observed for ΔF/Fm′, while the detrimental effects of climate and diuron on net photosynthesis and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) were additive. Calcification-related enzymes were negatively affected only by diuron, with inhibition of Ca-ATPase and upregulation of carbonic anhydrase. The combined and consistent physiological and biochemical evidence of negative impacts (across six indicators) of both herbicide and future-climate conditions on the health of H. opuntia highlights the need to address both climate change and water quality. Guideline values for contaminants may also need to be lowered considering ‘climate adjusted thresholds’. Importantly, this study highlights the value of applying substantial future climate acclimation periods in experimental studies to avoid exaggerated organism responses to OW and OA.

Continue reading ‘Acclimation history modulates effect size of calcareous algae (Halimeda opuntia) to herbicide exposure under future climate scenarios’

Air-sea CO2 flux in an equatorial continental shelf dominated by coral reefs (Southwestern Atlantic Ocean)


•Air-sea CO2 fluxes and carbonate chemistry were investigated in coral reef-dominated waters (SW Atlantic).

•The relationship between nTA and nDIC evidenced occurrence of CaCO3 calcification in coral reefs.

•CaCO3 calcification increased the values of fCO2sw, and lowered the pHT and Ωara.

•Aquatic emissions of CO2 in coral reefs were higher than nearshore and offshore locations.

•The results have implications considering the carbon budget at the SW Atlantic Ocean.


Coral reefs are ecosystems highly vulnerable to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, including those related to the ocean acidification and global warming. Brazilian coral reefs contains the major area of reefs coverage in the Southwestern (SW) Atlantic Ocean, however, studies aimed at investigating the controls of seawater carbonate chemistry in coral reefs are still overlooked in Brazil. This study comprehends the first investigation of complete seawater carbonate chemistry parameters in a section of the equatorial continental shelf dominated by coral reefs in the SW Atlantic Ocean. The sampling included spatial continuous underway measurements of sea surface CO2 fugacity (fCO2sw), temperature (SST), salinity (SSS), and discrete investigations of total alkalinity (TA), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), bicarbonate (HCO3), carbonate (CO32−), and saturation state of aragonite (Ωara). The study was conducted during a dry period (July-2019) in the Marine State Park of Pedra da Risca do Meio (PRM), a marine protected area dominated by coral reef communities. Overall, the coral-reef dominated waters presented higher values of fCO2sw (475 ± 28 μatm), and lower values of pHT (7.98 ± 0.008), CO32− (217 ± 5 μmol kg-1) and Ωara (3.49 ± 0.07), compared to nearshore regions without the influence of coral reef waters, where the averages of fCO2sw, pHT, CO32−, and Ωarawere, respectively, 458 ± 21 μatm, 8.00 ± 0.007, 224 ± 4 μmol kg-1, and 3.58 ± 0.05. The relationship between salinity-normalized TA (nTA) and salinity-normalized DIC (nDIC) showed a slope higher than 1 (1.26) in the coral reef, evidencing the occurrence of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) precipitation and prevalence of inorganic carbon metabolism. The CaCO3 precipitation involves the consumption of TA and DIC in a ratio 2:1, with production of CO2. This mechanism explains the higher values of fCO2sw in the coral reef-dominated waters. The values of fCO2sw were always higher than the atmospheric values (fCO2air), indicating a permanent source of CO2 in the study area during the sampled period. The calculated fluxes of CO2 at the air-sea interface averaged 8.4 ± 6.5 mmolC m-2 d-1 in the coral reef-dominated waters, and these data are higher than those verified in nearshore and offshore locations. These higher emissions of CO2 in coral reef-dominated waters evidence that the carbon budgets calculated for North and Northeastern continental shelf of Brazil must include these environments taking into account the widespread coral reef coverage in the region. This study also confirms that biogeochemical processes occurring in coral reefs are modifying the seawater carbonate chemistry, with implication in the context of the current process of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Air-sea CO2 flux in an equatorial continental shelf dominated by coral reefs (Southwestern Atlantic Ocean)’

Adult exposure to acidified seawater influences sperm physiology in Mytilus galloprovincialis: Laboratory and in situ transplant experiments


•SWAc impacts on sperm physiology in the M. galloprovincialis after paternal exposure.

•Microcosm and in situ transplant experiment were set up and compared.

•Several sperm quality parameters were analyzed at different exposure times.

•Paternal SWAc exposure affects sperm motility, morphology, mitochondria and pHi.

•Microcosm experiments allowed to explore mechanism underlying responses to SWAc.


The ongoing increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is inducing a progressive lowering of marine water pH that is predicted to decrease to 7.8 by the end of this century. In marine environment, physical perturbation may affect reproduction, which is crucial for species’ survival and strictly depends on gamete quality. The effects of seawater acidification (SWAc) on gamete quality of broadcast spawning marine invertebrates result largely from experiments of gamete exposure while the SWAc impact in response to adult exposure is poorly investigated. Performing microcosm and in field experiments at a naturally acidified site, we investigated the effects of adult SWAc exposure on sperm quality parameters underlying fertilization in Mytilus galloprovincialis. These animals were exposed to pH 7.8 over 21 days and collected at different times to analyze sperm parameters as concentration, motility, viability, morphology, oxidative status, intra- and extra-cellular pH and mitochondrial membrane potential. Results obtained in the two experimental approaches were slightly different. Under field conditions, we found an increase in total sperm motility and mitochondrial membrane potential on days 7 and 14 from the start of SWAc exposure whereas, in microcosm, SWAc group showed an increase of total motility on day 14. In addition, sperm morphology and intracellular pH were affected in both experimental approaches; whereas oxidative stress was detected only in spermatozoa collected from mussels under natural SWAc. The overall analysis suggests that, in mussels, SWAc toxic mechanism in spermatozoa does not involve oxidative stress. This study represents the first report on mussel sperm quality impairment after adult SWAc exposure, which may affect fertilization success with negative ecological and economic consequences; it also indicates that, although naturally acidified areas represent ideal natural laboratories for investigating the impact of ocean acidification, microcosm experiments are necessary for examining action mechanisms.

Continue reading ‘Adult exposure to acidified seawater influences sperm physiology in Mytilus galloprovincialis: Laboratory and in situ transplant experiments’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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