Posts Tagged 'abundance'

Solar UVR sensitivity of phyto- and bacterioplankton communities from Patagonian coastal waters under increased nutrients and acidification

The effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) under future expected conditions of acidification and increase in nutrient inputs were studied on a post-bloom phytoplankton and bacterioplankton community of Patagonian coastal waters. We performed an experiment using microcosms where two environmental conditions were mimicked using a cluster approach: present (ambient nutrients and pH) and future (increased nutrients and acidification), and acclimating the samples for five days to two radiation treatments (full solar radiation [+UVR] and exclusion of UVR [–UVR]). We evaluated the short-term (hours) sensitivity of the community to solar UVR through chlorophyll afluorescence parameters (e.g. the effective photochemical quantum yield of PSII [ΦPSII]) at the beginning, at the mid-point and at the end of the acclimation period. Primary production and heterotrophic bacterial production (HBP) were determined, and biological weighting functions were calculated, at the beginning and at the end of the acclimation period. Mid-term effects (days) were evaluated as changes in taxonomic composition, growth rates and size structure of the community. Although the UVR-induced inhibition on ΦPSII decreased in both clusters, samples remained sensitive to UVR after the 5 days of acclimation. Also, under the future conditions, there was, in general, an increase in the phytoplankton carbon incorporation rates along the experiment as compared to the present conditions. Bacterioplankton sensitivity to UVR changed along the experiment from inhibition to enhancement of HBP, and future environmental conditions stimulated bacterial growth, probably due to indirect effects caused by phytoplankton. Those changes in the microbial loop functioning and structure under future global change conditions might have important consequences for the carbon pump and thus for the carbon sequestration and trophodynamics of Patagonian coastal waters.

Continue reading ‘Solar UVR sensitivity of phyto- and bacterioplankton communities from Patagonian coastal waters under increased nutrients and acidification’

Impacts of a reduction in seawater pH mimicking ocean acidification on the structure and diversity of mycoplankton communities

Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) change ocean chemistry, as dissolved CO2 leads to a reduction in the seawater pH. Many marine taxa have been shown to be affected by ocean acidification; however, information on marine fungi is lacking. We analyzed the effect of pH on mycoplankton communities. The pH of microcosms was adjusted to a value mimicking the predicted ocean acidification in the near future. Fungal communities were analyzed using a double-marker gene approach, allowing a more detailed analysis of their response using 454 pyrosequencing. Mycoplankton communities in microcosms with in situ and adjusted water pH values differed significantly in terms of structure and diversity. The differences were mainly abundance shifts among the dominant taxa, rather than the exclusion of fungal groups. A sensitivity to lower pH values was reported for several groups across the fungal kingdom and was not phylogenetically conserved. Some of the fungal species that dominated the communities of microcosms with a lower pH were known pathogenic fungi. With the increasing awareness of the significant role fungi play in marine systems, including performing a diverse range of symbiotic activities, our results highlight the importance of including fungi in further research projects studying and modeling biotic responses to the predicted ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of a reduction in seawater pH mimicking ocean acidification on the structure and diversity of mycoplankton communities’

Effects of temperature and pCO2 on population regulation of Symbiodinium spp. in a tropical reef coral

This study tested the bleaching response of the Pacific coral Seriatopora caliendrumto short-term exposure to high temperature and elevated partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2). Juvenile colonies collected from Nanwan Bay, Taiwan, were used in a factorial experimental design in which 2 temperatures (∼27.6 °C and ∼30.4 °C) and 2 pCO2 values (∼47.2 Pa and ∼90.7 Pa) were crossed to evaluate, over 12 days, the effects on the densities and physiology of the symbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium) in the corals. Thermal bleaching, as defined by a reduction of Symbiodinium densities at high temperature, was unaffected by high pCO2. The division, or mitotic index (MI), of Symbiodinium remaining in thermally bleached corals was about 35% lower than in control colonies, but they contained about 53% more chlorophyll. Bleaching was highly variable among colonies, but the differences were unrelated to MI or pigment content of Symbiodinium remaining in the coral host. At the end of the study, all of the corals contained clade C Symbiodinium (either C1d or C15), and the genetic variation of symbionts did not account for among-colony bleaching differences. These results showed that high temperature causes coral bleaching independent of pCO2, and underscores the potential role of the coral host in driving intraspecific variation in coral bleaching.

Continue reading ‘Effects of temperature and pCO2 on population regulation of Symbiodinium spp. in a tropical reef coral’

Distribution of planktonic biogenic carbonate organisms in the Southern Ocean south of Australia: a baseline for ocean acidification impact assessment

The Southern Ocean provides a vital service by absorbing about one sixth of humankind’s annual emissions of CO2. This comes with a cost – an increase in ocean acidity that is expected to have negative impacts on ocean ecosystems. The reduced ability of phytoplankton and zooplankton to precipitate carbonate shells is a clearly identified risk. The impact depends on the significance of these organisms in Southern Ocean ecosystems, but there is very little information on their abundance or distribution. To quantify their presence, we used coulometric measurement of particulate inorganic carbonate (PIC) on particles filtered from surface seawater into two size fractions: 50–1000 μm to capture foraminifera (the most important biogenic carbonate forming zooplankton) and 1–50 μm to capture coccolithophores (the most important biogenic carbonate forming phytoplankton). Ancillary measurements of biogenic silica (BSi) and particulate organic carbon (POC) provided context, as estimates of the abundance of diatoms (the most abundant phytoplankton in polar waters), and total microbial biomass, respectively. Results for 9 transects from Australia to Antarctica in 2008–2015 showed low levels of PIC compared to northern hemisphere polar waters. Coccolithophores slightly exceeded the biomass of diatoms in Subantarctic waters, but their abundance decreased more than 30-fold poleward, while diatom abundances increased, so that on a molar basis PIC was only 1 % of BSi in Antarctic waters. This limited importance of coccolithophores in the Southern Ocean is further emphasized in terms of their associated POC, representing less than 1 % of total POC in Antarctic waters and less than 10 % in Subantarctic waters. NASA satellite ocean colour based PIC estimates were in reasonable agreement with (though somewhat higher than) the shipboard results in Subantarctic waters, but greatly over-estimated PIC in Antarctic waters. Contrastingly, the NASA Ocean Biogeochemical Model (NOBM) shows coccolithophores as overly restricted to Subtropical and northern Subantarctic waters. The cause of the strong southward decrease in PIC abundance in the Southern Ocean is not yet clear. Poleward decrease in pH is small and while calcite saturation decreases strongly southward it remains well above saturation (> 2). Nitrate and phosphate variations would predict a poleward increase. Temperature and competition with diatoms for limiting iron appear likely to be important. While the future trajectory of coccolithophore distributions remains uncertain, their current low abundances suggest small impacts on overall Southern Ocean pelagic ecology.

Continue reading ‘Distribution of planktonic biogenic carbonate organisms in the Southern Ocean south of Australia: a baseline for ocean acidification impact assessment’

Ocean acidification changes the structure of an Antarctic coastal protistan community

Antarctic near-shore waters are amongst of the most vulnerable in the world to ocean acidification. Microbes occupying these waters are critical drivers of ecosystem productivity, elemental cycling and ocean biogeochemistry, yet little is known about their sensitivity to ocean acidification. An unreplicated, six-level dose-response experiment was conducted using 650 L incubation tanks (minicosms) adjusted to fugacity of carbon dioxide (ƒCO2) from 343 to 11 641 μatm. The minicosms were filled with near-shore water from Prydz Bay, East Antarctica and the protistan composition and abundance was determined by microscopy analysis of samples collected during the 18 day incubation. No CO2-related change in the protistan community composition was observed during the initial 8 day acclimation period under low light. Thereafter, the response of protists to ƒCO2 were species-specific for both heterotrophic and autotrophic protists. The response by diatoms was related to cell size, large cells increasing in abundance with low to moderate ƒCO2 (634–953 μatm). Similarly, the abundance of Phaeocystis antarctica increased with increasing ƒCO2 peaking at a ƒCO2 of 634 μatm. Above this threshold the abundances of large diatoms and Phaeocystis antarctica fell dramatically, and small diatoms dominated, therefore culminating in a significant shift in the composition of the protistan community. The threshold CO2 level at which the composition changed agreed with that previously measured at this location, indicating it remains consistent among seasons. This suggests that near-shore microbial communities are likely to change significantly near the end of this century if anthropogenic CO2 release continues unabated, with profound ramifications for near-shore Antarctic ecosystems.

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Low pH reduces the virulence of black band disease on Orbicella faveolata

Black band is a deadly coral disease found worldwide, which may become more virulent as oceanic conditions continue to change. To determine the effects of climate change and ocean acidification on black band disease virulence, Orbicella faveolata corals with black band were exposed to different temperature and pH conditions. Results showed a significant decrease in disease progression under low pH (7.7) conditions. Low pH also altered the relative abundance of the bacterial community of the black band disease consortium. Here, there was a significant decrease in Roseofilum, the cyanobacterium that typically dominates the black band mat. These results indicate that as oceanic pH decreases so may the virulence of a worldwide coral disease.

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Reef-building corals thrive within hot-acidified and deoxygenated waters

Coral reefs are deteriorating under climate change as oceans continue to warm and acidify and thermal anomalies grow in frequency and intensity. In vitro experiments are widely used to forecast reef-building coral health into the future, but often fail to account for the complex ecological and biogeochemical interactions that govern reefs. Consequently, observations from coral communities under naturally occurring extremes have become central for improved predictions of future reef form and function. Here, we present a semi-enclosed lagoon system in New Caledonia characterised by diel fluctuations of hot-deoxygenated water coupled with tidally driven persistently low pH, relative to neighbouring reefs. Coral communities within the lagoon system exhibited high richness (number of species = 20) and cover (24–35% across lagoon sites). Calcification rates for key species (Acropora formosa, Acropora pulchra, Coelastrea aspera and Porites lutea) for populations from the lagoon were equivalent to, or reduced by ca. 30–40% compared to those from the reef. Enhanced coral respiration, alongside high particulate organic content of the lagoon sediment, suggests acclimatisation to this trio of temperature, oxygen and pH changes through heterotrophic plasticity. This semi-enclosed lagoon therefore provides a novel system to understand coral acclimatisation to complex climatic scenarios and may serve as a reservoir of coral populations already resistant to extreme environmental conditions.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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