Archive for the 'Science' Category

Responses of a coral reef shark acutely exposed to ocean acidification conditions

Anthropogenic ocean acidification (OA) is a threat to coral reef fishes, but few studies have investigated responses of high-trophic-level predators, including sharks. We tested the effects of 72-hr exposure to OA-relevant elevated partial pressures of carbon dioxide (pCO2) on oxygen uptake rates, acid–base status, and haematology of newborn tropical blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus). Acute exposure to end-of-century pCO2 levels resulted in elevated haematocrit (i.e. stress or compensation of oxygen uptake rates) and blood lactate concentrations (i.e. prolonged recovery) in the newborns. Conversely, whole blood and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentrations, blood pH, estimates of standard and maximum metabolic rates, and aerobic scope remained unaffected. Taken together, newborn blacktip reef sharks appear physiologically robust to end-of-century pCO2 levels, but less so than other, previously investigated, tropical carpet sharks. Our results suggest peak fluctuating pCO2 levels in coral reef lagoons could still physiologically affect newborn reef sharks, but studies assessing the effects of long-term exposure and in combination with other anthropogenic stressors are needed.

Continue reading ‘Responses of a coral reef shark acutely exposed to ocean acidification conditions’

Call for manuscripts: Special issue “Effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems”

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 October 2020

Special Issue information: The expected impact of climate change on ecosystems and the service they provide to human populations is one of the most urgent research topics of our times. Among the various consequences of global climate change, ocean acidification is one subtle effect that is raising serious concerns in the scientific community due to the expected impacts on calcifying organisms, the biomineralized structures they produce, and associated communities. In recent decades, research on ocean acidification impacts has provided support for these concerns, as several negative impacts of this process have been observed in a variety of taxa in aquarium, mesocosm, and natural laboratory studies (e.g., carbon dioxide volcanic vents).

This Special Issue provides a framework to highlight new research contributing to our understanding of the impact of ocean acidification at all latitudes (polar to tropical), on all ecosystems, and through all scientific approaches (from observations in the field to laboratory-controlled experiments). Even if the session does not preclude other topics, studies focusing on the process of biomineralization and on the alteration of ecosystem services provided by systems impacted by ocean acidification are encouraged.

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Biogenic carbonate dissolution in shallow marine environments

Ocean acidification (OA), the decrease in surface ocean pH and seawater saturation state with respect to carbonate minerals (Ω), is expected to increase carbonate mineral dissolution. However, the influence of OA on carbonate dissolution has been largely neglected despite evidence that it is more sensitive to OA than calcification. Increases in the rate of carbonate dissolution could have severe impacts for ecosystems such as coral reefs, which rely on the accumulation of carbonate structures and substrates to exist. At present, dissolution rates of bulk shallow biogenic carbonate sediments are largely unknown and laboratory dissolution rates exceed in situ rates by orders of magnitude. The goal of this study was to develop a better understanding of the drivers and controls of bulk carbonate sediment dissolution in coral reef environments. Based on results from in situ benthic chambers and laboratory free-drift experiments of bulk biogenic carbonate sediments from global locations, dissolution rates were found to be primarily controlled by organic matter decomposition, but significantly influenced by the overlying seawater carbonate chemistry and the solubility of the most soluble mineral phase in the sediments. Shallow carbonate dissolution will therefore be enhanced via ocean acidification, increased respiration, or a combination of these processes. The sensitivity of bulk sediment dissolution rates to changes in Ω was not related to median grain size or mineralogy, but may be attributed to organic coatings on sediment grains. Dissolution rates in bulk sediments increased ~2-3-fold when these coatings were removed, suggesting that they act as a protective barrier that limits direct interaction of seawater with the mineral surface, thus inhibiting dissolution. On the ecosystem scale, carbonate dissolution was inferred from calcium anomalies measured using a novel spectrophotometric titration system and confirms seasonal and inter-annual trends in reef biogeochemical processes based on parallel alkalinity measurements. However, calcium measurements may be best employed in environments where multiple processes significantly influence alkalinity or Mg-calcites are precipitating and dissolving. Although many questions remain, this work has elucidated certain key drivers and controls of shallow carbonate sediment dissolution and how they may respond to a rapidly changing ocean.

Continue reading ‘Biogenic carbonate dissolution in shallow marine environments’

Forecasting ocean acidification impacts on kelp forest ecosystems

Ocean acidification is one the biggest threats to marine ecosystems worldwide, but its ecosystem wide responses are still poorly understood. This study integrates field and experimental data into a mass balance food web model of a temperate coastal ecosystem to determine the impacts of specific OA forcing mechanisms as well as how they interact with one another. Specifically, we forced a food web model of a kelp forest ecosystem near its southern distribution limit in the California large marine ecosystem to a 0.5 pH drop over the course of 50 years. This study utilizes a modeling approach to determine the impacts of specific OA forcing mechanisms as well as how they interact. Isolating OA impacts on growth (Production), mortality (Other Mortality), and predation interactions (Vulnerability) or combining all three mechanisms together leads to a variety of ecosystem responses, with some taxa increasing in abundance and other decreasing. Results suggest that carbonate mineralizing groups such as coralline algae, abalone, snails, and lobsters display the largest decreases in biomass while macroalgae, urchins, and some larger fish species display the largest increases. Low trophic level groups such as giant kelp and brown algae increase in biomass by 16% and 71%, respectively. Due to the diverse way in which OA stress manifests at both individual and population levels, ecosystem-level effects can vary and display nonlinear patterns. Combined OA forcing leads to initial increases in ecosystem and commercial biomasses followed by a decrease in commercial biomass below initial values over time, while ecosystem biomass remains high. Both biodiversity and average trophic level decrease over time. These projections indicate that the kelp forest community would maintain high productivity with a 0.5 drop in pH, but with a substantially different community structure characterized by lower biodiversity and relatively greater dominance by lower trophic level organisms.

Continue reading ‘Forecasting ocean acidification impacts on kelp forest ecosystems’

Plastic response of the oyster Ostrea chilensis to temperature and pCO2 within the present natural range of variability

Estuaries are characterized by high fluctuation of their environmental conditions. Environmental parameters measured show that the seawater properties of the Quempillén estuary (i.e. temperature, salinity, pCO2, pH and ΩCaCO3) were highly fluctuating and related with season and tide. We test the effects of increasing temperature and pCO2 in the seawater on the physiological energetics of the bivalve Ostrea chilensis. Juvenile oysters were exposed to an orthogonal combination of three temperatures (10, 15, and 20°C) and two pCO2 levels (~400 and ~1000 μatm) for a period of 60 days to evaluate the temporal effect (i.e. 10, 20, 30, 60 days) on the physiological rates of the oysters. Results indicated a significant effect of temperature and time of exposure on the clearance rate, while pCO2 and the interaction between pCO2 and the other factors studied did not show significant effects. Significant effects of temperature and time of exposure were also observed on the absorption rate, but not the pCO2 nor its interaction with other factors studied. Oxygen consumption was significantly affected by pCO2, temperature and time. Scope for growth was only significantly affected by time; despite this, the highest values were observed for individuals subject to to 20°C and to ~1000 μatm pCO2. In this study, Ostrea chilensis showed high phenotypic plasticity to respond to the high levels of temperature and pCO2 experienced in its habitat as no negative physiological effects were observed. Thus, the highly variable conditions of this organism’s environment could select for individuals that are more resistant to future scenarios of climate change, mainly to warming and acidification.

Continue reading ‘Plastic response of the oyster Ostrea chilensis to temperature and pCO2 within the present natural range of variability’

The synergistic effects of elevated temperature and CO2-induced ocean acidification reduce cardiac performance and increase disease susceptibility in subadult, female American lobsters Homarus americanus H. Milne Edwards, 1837 (Decapoda: Astacidea: Nephropidae) from the Gulf of Maine

Increased greenhouse gas emissions have caused rapid ocean warming (OW) and reduced ocean pH via acidification (OA). Both OW and OA will likely impact marine crustaceans, but they are often examined in isolation. We conducted an environmental-stressor experiment to understand how exposure to current summer conditions (16 °C, pH 8.0), OW only (20 °C, pH 8.0), OA only (16 °C, pH 7.6), or both acidification and warming, OAW (20 °C, pH 7.6), differentially influence thermal physiology and immune response of female subadults of the American lobster, Homarus americanus H. Milne Edwards, 1837. Following a 42 d exposure, cardiac performance was assessed during an acute thermal stress, and lobsters were subjected to a subsequent 21 d pathogen challenge with the bacterium Aerococcus viridans var. homari, the causative agent of gaffkemia. Lobsters under OAW had significantly lower (P ≤ 0.02) Arrhenius break temperatures (ABT), an indicator of thermal limits of capacity, compared to lobsters exposed to all other treatments, suggesting these stressors act synergistically to reduce physiological performance. Individuals from the OW and OAW treatments also had significantly lower (P ≤ 0.035) total hemocyte counts (THCs), an indicator of immune response, and showed a reduced median time to death (by up to 5 d sooner) post A. viridans injection compared to lobsters exposed to current summer conditions. Moreover, nearly twice as many lobsters exposed to OAW lost at least one claw during the pathogen challenge compared to all other treatment groups, potentially increasing the risk of mortality due to secondary infection. Together, these results suggest that OAW will impact the physiology and immune response of subadult H. americanus, potentially influencing successful recruitment to the fishery.

Continue reading ‘The synergistic effects of elevated temperature and CO2-induced ocean acidification reduce cardiac performance and increase disease susceptibility in subadult, female American lobsters Homarus americanus H. Milne Edwards, 1837 (Decapoda: Astacidea: Nephropidae) from the Gulf of Maine’

Monitoring ocean acidification in Norwegian seas in 2019

This is the annual report from 2019 based on the program: ‘Monitoring ocean acidification in Norwegian waters’ and ‘Monitoring of ocean acidification in the coastal zone’ funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency. The measurements are performed by the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), NORCE Norwegian Research Centre (NORCE) and the Univsersity of Bergen (UiB). The measurements cover the North Sea/Skagerrak, the Norwegian Sea, and the seasonally ice-covered Barents Sea. In 2019, the program “Monitoring of ocean acidification in the coastal zone” included five fixed
water column station, four lines with underway surface measurements (discrete and/or continuous) and seven cold-water coral reefs. This report presents and discusses some time series data for the period 2011-2019.

Continue reading ‘Monitoring ocean acidification in Norwegian seas in 2019’

Cuttlefish buoyancy in response to food availability and ocean acidification

Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is expected to continue rising by 2100, leading to a decrease in ocean pH in a process known as ocean acidification (OA). OA can have a direct impact on calcifying organisms, including on the cuttlebone of the common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. Moreover, nutritional status has also been shown to affect the cuttlebone structure and potentially affect buoyancy. Here, we aimed to understand the combined effects of OA (980 μatm CO2) and food availability (fed vs. non-fed) on the buoyancy of cuttlefish newborns and respective cuttlebone weight/area ratio (as a proxy for calcification). Our results indicate that while OA elicited negative effects on hatching success, it did not negatively affect the cuttlebone weight/area ratio of the hatchlings—OA led to an increase in cuttlebone weight/area ratio of fed newborns (but not in unfed individuals). The proportion of “floating” (linked to buoyancy control loss) newborns was greatest under starvation, regardless of the CO2 treatment, and was associated with a drop in cuttlebone weight/area ratio. Besides showing that cuttlefish buoyancy is unequivocally affected by starvation, here, we also highlight the importance of nutritional condition to assess calcifying organisms’ responses to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Cuttlefish buoyancy in response to food availability and ocean acidification’

Adaption potential of Crassostrea gigas to ocean acidification and disease caused by Vibrio harveyi

The survival and development of bivalve larvae is adversely impacted by ocean acidification and Vibrio infection, indicating that bivalves need to simultaneously adapt to both stressors associated with anthropogenic climate change. In this study, we use a half-dial breeding design to estimate heritability (h2) for survival to Vibrio harveyi infection and larval shell length to aragonite undersaturated and normal conditions in laboratory-reared Crassostrea gigas. Phenotypic differences were observed between families for these traits with heritability estimated to be moderate for survival to V. harveyi challenge (h2 = 0.25) and low for shell length in corrosive (Ωaragonite = 0.9, h2 = 0.15) and normal conditions (Ωaragonite = 1.6, h2 = 0.15). Predicted breeding values for larval shell length are correlated between aragonite-undersaturated and normal conditions (Spearman r = 0.63, p < 0.05), indicating that larger larvae tend to do better in corrosive seawater. Aquaculture hatcheries routinely cull slow-growing larvae to reduce and synchronize time taken for larvae to metamorphose to spat, thus inadvertently applying size-related selection for larger larvae. This indirect selection in the hatchery populations provides a plausible explanation why domesticated oyster populations are less sensitive to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Adaption potential of Crassostrea gigas to ocean acidification and disease caused by Vibrio harveyi’

Algal density alleviates the elevated CO2‐caused reduction on growth of Porphyra haitanensis (Bangiales, Rhodophyta), a species farmed in China

Growing of Pyropia haitanensis, a commercially farmed macroalga, usually increases their densities greatly during cultivation in natural habitats. To explore how the increased algal densities affect their photosynthetic responses to rising CO2, we compared the growth, cell components and photosynthesis of the thalli of P. haitanensis under a matrix of pCO2 levels (ambient CO2, 400 ppm; elevated CO2, 1,000 ppm) and biomass densities [low, 1.0 g fresh weight (FW) L−1; medium, 2.0 g FW L−1; high, 4.0 g FW L−1]. Under ambient CO2, the relative growth rate (RGR) was 5.87% d−1, 2.32% d−1 and 1.51% d−1 in low, medium and high densities, and elevated CO2 reduced the RGR by 27%, 25% and 12% respectively. Maximal photochemical quantum yield of photosystem II (FV/FM) was higher in low than in high densities, so were the light‐utilized efficiency (α ), saturation irradiance (EK) and maximum relative electron transfer rate (rETRmax). Elevated CO2 enhanced the FV/FM in low density but not in higher densities, as well as the α, EK and rETRmax. In addition, elevated CO2 reduced the content of chlorophyll a and enhanced that of carotenoids, but unaffected phycoerythrin, phycocyanin and soluble proteins. Our results indicate that the increased algal densities reduced both the growth and the photosynthesis of P. haitanensis and alleviated the elevated CO2‐induced negative impact on growth and positive impact on photosynthesis. Moreover, the elevated CO2‐induced reduction on growth and promotion on photosynthesis indicates that rising CO2 may enhance the loss of photosynthetic products of P. haitanensis through releasing organic matters.

Continue reading ‘Algal density alleviates the elevated CO2‐caused reduction on growth of Porphyra haitanensis (Bangiales, Rhodophyta), a species farmed in China’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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