Fish are critical ecologically and socioeconomically for subsistence economies in the Arctic, an ecosystem undergoing unprecedented environmental change. Our understanding of the responses of nearshore Arctic fishes to environmental change is inadequate because of limited research on the physicochemical drivers of abundance occurring at a fine scale. Here, high-frequency in situ measurements of pH, temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen were paired with daily fish catches in nearshore Alaskan waters of the Beaufort Sea. Due to the threat that climate change poses to high-latitude marine ecosystems, our main objective was to characterize the abiotic drivers of abundance and elucidate how nearshore fish communities may change in the future. We used generalized additive models (GAMs) to describe responses to the nearshore environment for 18 fish species. Relationships between abundance and the physicochemical environment were variable between species and reflected life history. Each abiotic covariate was significant in at least one GAM, exhibiting both nonlinear and linear associations with abundance. Temperature was the most important predictor of abundance and was significant in GAMs for 11 species. Notably, pH was a significant predictor of abundance for six species: Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), broad whitefish (Coregonus nasus), Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma), ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius), saffron cod (Eleginus gracilis), and whitespotted greenling (Hexagrammos stelleri). Broad whitefish and whitespotted greenling abundance was positively associated with pH, while Arctic cod and saffron cod abundance was negatively associated with pH. These results may be a bellwether for future nearshore Arctic fish community change by providing a foundational characterization of the relationships between abundance and the abiotic environment, particularly in regard to pH, and demonstrate the importance of including a wider range of physicochemical habitat covariates in future research.
Calcified coralline algae are ecologically important in rocky habitats in the marine photic zone worldwide and there is growing concern that ocean acidification will severely impact them. Laboratory studies of these algae in simulated ocean acidification conditions have revealed wide variability in growth, photosynthesis and calcification responses, making it difficult to assess their future biodiversity, abundance and contribution to ecosystem function. Here, we apply molecular systematic tools to assess the impact of natural gradients in seawater carbonate chemistry on the biodiversity of coralline algae in the Mediterranean and the NW Pacific, link this to their evolutionary history and evaluate their potential future biodiversity and abundance. We found a decrease in the taxonomic diversity of coralline algae with increasing acidification with more than half of the species lost in high pCO2 conditions. Sporolithales is the oldest order (Lower Cretaceous) and diversified when ocean chemistry favoured low Mg calcite deposition; it is less diverse today and was the most sensitive to ocean acidification. Corallinales were also reduced in cover and diversity but several species survived at high pCO2; it is the most recent order of coralline algae and originated when ocean chemistry favoured aragonite and high Mg calcite deposition. The sharp decline in cover and thickness of coralline algal carbonate deposits at high pCO2 highlighted their lower fitness in response to ocean acidification. Reductions in CO2 emissions are needed to limit the risk of losing coralline algal diversity.
The objective of this study was to assess experimentally the potential impact of anthropogenic pH perturbation (ApHP) on concentrations of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), as well as processes governing the microbial cycling of sulfur compounds. A summer planktonic community from surface waters of the Lower St. Lawrence Estuary was monitored in microcosms over 12 days under three pCO2 targets: 1 × pCO2 (775 µatm), 2 × pCO2 (1,850 µatm), and 3 × pCO2 (2,700 µatm). A mixed phytoplankton bloom comprised of diatoms and unidentified flagellates developed over the course of the experiment. The magnitude and timing of biomass buildup, measured by chlorophyll a concentration, changed in the 3 × pCO2 treatment, reaching about half the peak chlorophyll a concentration measured in the 1 × pCO2 treatment, with a 2-day lag. Doubling and tripling the pCO2 resulted in a 15% and 40% decline in average concentrations of DMS compared to the control. Results from 35S-DMSPd uptake assays indicated that neither concentrations nor microbial scavenging efficiency of dissolved DMSP was affected by increased pCO2. However, our results show a reduction of the mean microbial yield of DMS by 34% and 61% in the 2 × pCO2 and 3 × pCO2 treatments, respectively. DMS concentrations correlated positively with microbial yields of DMS (Spearman’s ρ = 0.65; P < 0.001), suggesting that the impact of ApHP on concentrations of DMS in diatom-dominated systems may be strongly linked with alterations of the microbial breakdown of dissolved DMSP. Findings from this study provide further empirical evidence of the sensitivity of the microbial DMSP switch under ApHP. Because even small modifications in microbial regulatory mechanisms of DMSP can elicit changes in atmospheric chemistry via dampened efflux of DMS, results from this study may contribute to a better comprehension of Earth’s future climate.
Global change, including rising temperatures and acidification, threatens corals globally. Although bleaching events reveal fine-scale patterns of resilience, traits enabling persistence under global change remain elusive. We conducted a 95-d controlled-laboratory experiment investigating how duration of exposure to warming (~28, 31°C), acidification (pCO2 ~ 343 [present day], ~663 [end of century], ~3109 [extreme] μatm), and their combination influences physiology of reef-building corals (Siderastrea siderea, Pseudodiploria strigosa) from two reef zones on the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Every 30 d, net calcification rate, host protein and carbohydrate, chlorophyll a, and symbiont density were quantified for the same coral individual to characterize acclimation potential under global change. Coral physiologies of the two species were differentially affected by stressors and exposure duration was found to modulate these responses. Siderastrea siderea exhibited resistance to end of century pCO2 and temperature stress, but calcification was negatively affected by extreme pCO2. However, S. siderea calcification rates remained positive after 95 d of extreme pCO2 conditions, suggesting acclimation. In contrast, P. strigosa was more negatively influenced by elevated temperatures, which reduced most physiological parameters. An exception was nearshore P. strigosa, which maintained calcification rates under elevated temperature, suggesting local adaptation to the warmer environment of their natal reef zone. This work highlights how tracking coral physiology across various exposure durations can capture acclimatory responses to global change stressors.
Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing global ocean changes and drives changes in organism physiology, life-history traits, and population dynamics of natural marine resources. However, our knowledge of the mechanisms and consequences of ocean acidification (OA) – in combination with other climatic drivers (i.e., warming, deoxygenation) – on organisms and downstream effects on marine fisheries is limited. Here, we explored how the direct effects of multiple changes in ocean conditions on organism aerobic performance scales up to spatial impacts on fisheries catch of 210 commercially exploited marine invertebrates, known to be susceptible to OA. Under the highest CO2 trajectory, we show that global fisheries catch potential declines by as much as 12% by the year 2100 relative to present, of which 3.4% was attributed to OA. Moreover, OA effects are exacerbated in regions with greater changes in pH (e.g., West Arctic basin), but are reduced in tropical areas where the effects of ocean warming and deoxygenation are more pronounced (e.g., Indo-Pacific). Our results enhance our knowledge on multi-stressor effects on marine resources and how they can be scaled from physiology to population dynamics. Furthermore, it underscores variability of responses to OA and identifies vulnerable regions and species.
- BACI model detects larval fish abundance before and after 30 years of development.
- Lower larval diversity and abundance at impact than at offshore control stations.
- The inshore-offshore cline in abundance can be related to lower SST and higher pH.
- Total larval fish abundance increased despite changes in zooplankton composition.
- 1st and 2nd stage larvae of certain families increased after development impact.
Changes in larval fish assemblages were studied before (1985-86) and after (2013–2014) rapid coastal development in the Klang Strait, Malaysia, based on a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) experimental design. Fish larvae were sampled by bongo-nets along an 18-km transect from the impact station at the Kapar power station (KPS) to four control stations in increasingly offshore waters. Families Gobiidae, Clupeidae, Sciaenidae and Engraulidae were most abundant at both sampling periods, demonstrating their adaptability and resilience to the natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Coastal development has reduced larval fish abundance at KPS, inevitably shifting higher larval abundance to the control stations. This shift is related to lower sea surface temperature and higher pH. Despite the coastal disturbances, there was an overall increase in total larval fish abundance attributed to the preflexion stage of the Gobiidae, Sciaenidae, Engraulidae, Cynoglossidae and Callionymidae, and the yolk-sac and preflexion larvae of unidentified taxa.
Planktic foraminifera and shelled pteropods are some of the major producers of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the ocean. Their calcitic (foraminifera) and aragonitic (pteropods) shells are particularly sensitive to changes in the carbonate chemistry and play an important role for the inorganic and organic carbon pump of the ocean. Here, we have studied the abundance distribution of planktic foraminifera and pteropods (individuals m–3) and their contribution to the inorganic and organic carbon standing stocks (μg m–3) and export production (mg m–2 day–1) along a longitudinal transect north of Svalbard at 81° N, 22–32° E, in the Arctic Ocean. This transect, sampled in September 2018 consists of seven stations covering different oceanographic regimes, from the shelf to the slope and into the deep Nansen Basin. The sea surface temperature ranged between 1 and 5°C in the upper 300 m. Conditions were supersaturated with respect to CaCO3 (Ω > 1 for both calcite and aragonite). The abundance of planktic foraminifera ranged from 2.3 to 52.6 ind m–3 and pteropods from 0.1 to 21.3 ind m–3. The planktic foraminiferal population was composed mainly of the polar species Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (55.9%) and the subpolar species Turborotalita quinqueloba (21.7%), Neogloboquadrina incompta (13.5%) and Globigerina bulloides (5.2%). The pteropod population was dominated by the polar species Limacina helicina (99.6%). The rather high abundance of subpolar foraminiferal species is likely connected to the West Spitsbergen Current bringing warm Atlantic water to the study area. Pteropods dominated at the surface and subsurface. Below 100 m water depth, foraminifera predominated. Pteropods contribute 66–96% to the inorganic carbon standing stocks compared to 4–34% by the planktic foraminifera. The inorganic export production of planktic foraminifera and pteropods together exceeds their organic contribution by a factor of 3. The overall predominance of pteropods over foraminifera in this high Arctic region during the sampling period suggest that inorganic standing stocks and export production of biogenic carbonate would be reduced under the effects of ocean acidification.
We conduct a modeling study of the effects of enhanced coastal nutrient export from human activities on the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen cycles of the Southern California Bight, in the context of emerging global climate change. The modeling approach used is innovative in the breadth of its scope, and simulations are generally consistent with local measurements. The human effects on the regional ecosystem from coastal nitrogen inputs of 23 million people are substantial, leading to significant increases in the photosynthesis and biomass of phytoplankton and increased oxygen loss and acidification of the water column. These changes are likely to compress habitat for a variety of marine organisms, with cascading ecological effects and implications for marine resources and water-quality management.
Global change is leading to warming, acidification, and oxygen loss in the ocean. In the Southern California Bight, an eastern boundary upwelling system, these stressors are exacerbated by the localized discharge of anthropogenically enhanced nutrients from a coastal population of 23 million people. Here, we use simulations with a high-resolution, physical–biogeochemical model to quantify the link between terrestrial and atmospheric nutrients, organic matter, and carbon inputs and biogeochemical change in the coastal waters of the Southern California Bight. The model is forced by large-scale climatic drivers and a reconstruction of local inputs via rivers, wastewater outfalls, and atmospheric deposition; it captures the fine scales of ocean circulation along the shelf; and it is validated against a large collection of physical and biogeochemical observations. Local land-based and atmospheric inputs, enhanced by anthropogenic sources, drive a 79% increase in phytoplankton biomass, a 23% increase in primary production, and a nearly 44% increase in subsurface respiration rates along the coast in summer, reshaping the biogeochemistry of the Southern California Bight. Seasonal reductions in subsurface oxygen, pH, and aragonite saturation state, by up to 50 mmol m−3, 0.09, and 0.47, respectively, rival or exceed the global open-ocean oxygen loss and acidification since the preindustrial period. The biological effects of these changes on local fisheries, proliferation of harmful algal blooms, water clarity, and submerged aquatic vegetation have yet to be fully explored.
Marine bacterial community plays a vital role in the formation of the hypoxia zone in coastal oceans. Yet, their dynamics in the seasonal hypoxia zone of the Bohai Sea (BHS) are barely studied. Here, the 16S rRNA gene-based high-throughput sequencing was used to explore the dynamics of their diversity, structure, and function as well as driving factors during the gradual deoxygenation process in the BHS. Our results evinced that the bacterial community was dominated by Proteobacteria, followed by Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Cyanobacteria, etc. The abundant subcommunity dominated in the number of sequences (49%) while the rare subcommunity dominated in the number of species (99.61%). Although abundant subcommunity accounted for most sequences, rare subcommunity possessed higher diversity, richness and their population dramatically changed (higher turnover) during the hypoxia transition. Further, co-occurrence network analysis proved the vital role of rare subcommunity in the process of community assembly. Additionally, beta diversity partition revealed that both subcommunities possessed a higher turnover component than nestedness and/or richness component, implying species replacement could explain a considerable percentage of community variation. This variation might be governed by both environmental selection and stochastic processes, and further, it influenced the nitrogen cycle (PICRUSt-based prediction) of the hypoxia zone. Overall, this study provides insight into the spatial-temporal heterogeneity of bacterial and their vital role in biogeochemical cycles in the hypoxia zone of the BHS. These findings will extend our horizons about the stabilization mechanism, feedback regulation, and interactive model inside the bacterial community under oxygen-depleted ecosystems.
Zooplankton can serve as indicators of ecosystem health, water quality, food web structure, and environmental change, including those associated with climate change and ocean acidification (OA). Laboratory studies demonstrate that low pH and high pCO2 associated with OA can significantly affect the physiology and survival of zooplankton, with differential responses among taxa. While laboratory studies can be indicative of zooplankton response to OA, in situ responses will ultimately determine the fate of populations and ecosystems. In this perspective, we compare expectations from experimental studies with observations made in Puget Sound (Washington, United States), a highly dynamic estuary with known vulnerabilities to low pH and high pCO2. We found little association between empirical measures of in situ pH and the abundance of sensitive taxa as revealed by meta-analysis, calling into question the coherence between experimental studies and field observations. The apparent mismatch between laboratory and field studies has important ramifications for the design of long-term monitoring programs and interpretation and use of the data produced. Important work remains to be done to connect traits that are sensitive to OA with those that are ecologically relevant and reliably observable in the field.
The future of coral reef ecosystems is under threat because vital reef-accreting species such as coralline algae are highly susceptible to ocean acidification. Although ocean acidification is known to reduce coralline algal growth rates, its direct effects on the development of coralline algal reproductive structures (conceptacles) is largely unknown. Furthermore, the long-term, multi-generational response of coralline algae to ocean acidification is extremely understudied. Here, we investigate how mean pH, pH variability and the pH regime experienced in their natural habitat affect coralline algal conceptacle abundance and size across six generations of exposure. We show that second-generation coralline algae exposed to ocean acidification treatments had conceptacle abundances 60% lower than those kept in present-day conditions, suggesting that conceptacle development is initially highly sensitive to ocean acidification. However, this negative effect of ocean acidification on conceptacle abundance disappears after three generations of exposure. Moreover, we show that this transgenerational acclimation of conceptacle development is not facilitated by a trade-off with reduced investment in growth, as higher conceptacle abundances are associated with crusts with faster growth rates. These results indicate that the potential reproductive output of coralline algae may be sustained under future ocean acidification.
According to current experimental evidence, coral reefs could disappear within the century if CO2 emissions remain unabated. However, recent discoveries of diverse and high cover reefs that already thrive under extreme conditions seem to contradict these projections. Volcanic CO2 vents, semi-enclosed lagoons and mangrove estuaries are unique study sites where one or more ecologically relevant parameters for life in the oceans are close or even worse than currently projected for the year 2100. These natural analogues of future conditions hold new hope for the future of coral reefs and provide unique natural laboratories to explore how reef species could keep pace with climate change. To achieve this, it is essential to characterize their environment as a whole, and accurately consider all possible environmental factors that may differ from what is expected in the future and that may possibly alter the ecosystem response.
In this study, we focus on the semi-enclosed lagoon of Bouraké (New Caledonia, SW Pacific Ocean) where a healthy reef ecosystem thrives in warm, acidified and deoxygenated water. We used a multi-scale approach to characterize the main physical-chemical parameters and mapped the benthic community composition (i.e., corals, sponges, and macroalgae). The data revealed that most physical and chemical parameters are regulated by the tide, strongly fluctuate 3 to 4 times a day, and are entirely predictable. The seawater pH and dissolved oxygen decrease during falling tide and reach extreme low values at low tide (7.2 pHT and 1.9 mg O2 L−1 at Bouraké, vs 7.9 pHT and 5.5 mg O2 L−1 at reference reefs). Dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH fluctuates according to the tide of up to 4.91 mg O2 L−1, 6.50 °C, and 0.69 pHT units on a single day. Furthermore, the concentration of most of the chemical parameters was one- to 5-times higher at the Bouraké lagoon, particularly for organic and inorganic carbon and nitrogen, but also for some nutrients, notably silicates. Surprisingly, despite extreme environmental conditions and altered seawater chemical composition, our results reveal a diverse and high cover community of macroalgae, sponges and corals accounting for 28, 11 and 66 species, respectively. Both environmental variability and nutrient imbalance might contribute to their survival under such extreme environmental conditions. We describe the natural dynamics of the Bouraké ecosystem and its relevance as a natural laboratory to investigate the benthic organism’s adaptive responses to multiple stressors like future climate change conditions.
- Macroalgal photosynthesis (MP) controls daily pH variability during low tide.
- Environmental factors control pH variability at seasonal scale.
- Ulva lactuca photosynthetic activity increased the pH of seawater.
- Macrotidal action and MP prevent coastal acidification in an eutrophic system.
Nutrient input drive macroalgal blooms and increases in photosynthetic activity in coastal ecosystems. An intense macroalgal photosynthetic activity can increase the surrounding pH and it could prevent the acidification that often follows an eutrophication process. We tested this hypothesis with field sampling and experiments in a macrotidal (up to 9 m in amplitude) coastal system within a semi-desert region with contrasting eutrophic conditions and Ulva lactuca blooms in the northern Argentinean Patagonia (San Antonio Bay). Our results indicate that daily pH variability during low tide could be controlled by the photosynthetic activity of Ulva lactuca under eutrophic conditions. At seasonal scale, the pH variations were related to environmental features, particularly seawater temperature. Both environmental (i.e. high solar radiation, negligible freshwater inputs and, large tidal action) and anthropogenic nutrient inputs into the studied area promote the Ulva lactuca blooms, which in turn increases the surrounding pH in well oxygenated seawater through the intense photosynthetic activity. Our study shows that eutrophication instead of being a driver of acidification, could contribute to its prevention in well oxygenated marine coastal systems located within semi-desert regions.
The huge riverine influx and associated processes decrease the ambient salinity, stratify the water column, modulate the oxygen-deficient zone, and are also responsible for the recent acidification in the Bay of Bengal. Here, we have studied the effect of these riverine influx-dominated ecological parameters on living benthic foraminifera in the west-central Bay of Bengal. We report that the pH below 7.6 in front of the Krishna river, reduces the diversity and the richness of living benthic foraminifera on the adjacent shelf and the slope. A similar decreased diversity and richness is also observed in front of the Godavari River. We delineate three prominent assemblages, representing different depth zones with associated distinct physico-chemical conditions. The shallow water assemblage (∼27–100 m) is represented by Nonionella labradorica, Hanzawaia nipponica, Brizalina dilatata, Ammonia tepida, and Nonionella limbato-striata. These species are adapted to relatively warmer temperatures and more oxygenated waters. The deepwater assemblage (∼1,940–2,494 m) includes Bulimina cf. delreyensis, Bulimina marginata, Hormosinella guttifera, Cassidulina laevigata, and Gyroidinoides subzelandica and can tolerate a relatively colder temperature. The intermediate-depth assemblage (∼145–1,500 m) dominated by Eubuliminella exilis, Bolivinellina earlandi, Fursenkoina spinosa, Bolivinellina lucidopunctata, Globobulimina globosa, Fursenkoina spinosa, Eubuliminella cassandrae, Uvigerina peregrina, Rotaliatinopsis semiinvoluta, and Cassidulina laevigata, represents oxygen-deficient and organic carbon-rich environment. Besides the pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and organic matter, we also report a strong influence of bathymetry, coarse fraction (CF) and the type of organic matter on a few living benthic foraminifera. The ecological preferences of 40 such dominant living benthic foraminifera, each representing a specific environment, have also been reported for site-specific proxy. We conclude that although the huge riverine influx affects living benthic foraminifera on the shelf, the dissolved oxygen and organic carbon mostly control benthic foraminiferal distribution in the deeper west-central Bay of Bengal.
Effects of ocean acidification (OA) on the plant phenology and colonization/settlement pattern of the hydrozoan epibiont community of the leaves of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica have been studied at volcanic CO2 vents off Ischia (Italy). The study was conducted in shallow Posidonia stands (2.5–3.5 m depth), in three stations on the north and three on the south sides of the vent’s area (Castello Aragonese vents), distributed along a pH gradient. At each station, 10–15 P. oceanica shoots were collected every three months for one-year cycle (Sept 2009–2010). The shoot density of Posidonia beds in the most acidified stations along the gradient (pH < 7.4) was significantly higher than that in the control area (pH = 8.10). On the other hand, we recorded lower leaf lengths and widths in the acidified stations in the whole year of observations, compared to those in the control stations. However, the overall leaf surface (Leaf Area Index) available for epiphytes under ocean acidification conditions was higher on the south side and on both the most acidified stations because of the higher shoot density under OA conditions. The hydrozoan epibiont community on the leaf canopy accounted for seven species, three of which were relatively abundant and occurring all year around (Sertularia perpusilla, Plumularia obliqua, Clytia hemisphaerica). All hydroids species showed a clear tolerance to low pH levels, including chitinous and non-calcifying forms, likely favoured also by the absence of competition for substratum with the calcareous forms of epiphytes selected against OA.
Ocean chemistry is changing as a result of human activities. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are increasing, causing an increase in oceanic pCO2 that drives a decrease in oceanic pH, a process called ocean acidification (OA). Higher CO2 concentrations are also linked to rising global temperatures that can result in more stratified surface waters, reducing the exchange between surface and deep waters; this stronger stratification, along with nutrient pollution, contributes to an expansion of oxygen-depleted zones (so called hypoxia or deoxygenation). Determining the response of marine organisms to environmental changes is important for assessments of future ecosystem functioning. While many studies have assessed the impact of individual or paired stressors, fewer studies have assessed the combined impact of pCO2, O2, and temperature. A long-term experiment (∼10 months) with different treatments of these three stressors was conducted to determine their sole or combined impact on the abundance and survival of a benthic foraminiferal community collected from a continental-shelf site. Foraminifera are well suited to such study because of their small size, relatively rapid growth, varied mineralogies and physiologies. Inoculation materials were collected from a ∼77-m deep site south of Woods Hole, MA. Very fine sediments (<53 μm) were used as inoculum, to allow the entire community to respond. Thirty-eight morphologically identified taxa grew during the experiment. Multivariate statistical analysis indicates that hypoxia was the major driving factor distinguishing the yields, while warming was secondary. Species responses were not consistent, with different species being most abundant in different treatments. Some taxa grew in all of the triple-stressor samples. Results from the experiment suggest that foraminiferal species’ responses will vary considerably, with some being negatively impacted by predicted environmental changes, while other taxa will tolerate, and perhaps even benefit, from deoxygenation, warming and OA.
- Coralline alga create a microhabitat with mitigating effect on ocean acidification
- Temperature is the major driver of changes in the invertebrate reef community
- Winter heatwaves and acidified conditions alter invertebrates community structure
- Algal reef communities become dominated by opportunistic taxa
In coastal marine ecosystems coralline algae often create biogenic reefs. These calcareous algal reefs affect their associated invertebrate communities via diurnal oscillations in photosynthesis, respiration and calcification processes. Little is known about how these biogenic reefs function and how they will be affected by climate change. We investigated the winter response of a Mediterranean intertidal biogenic reef, Ellisolandia elongate exposed in the laboratory to reduced pH conditions (i.e. ambient pH – 0.3, RCP 8.5) together with an extreme heatwave event (+1.4°C for 15 days). Response variables considered both the algal physiology (calcification and photosynthetic rates) and community structure of the associated invertebrates (at taxonomic and functional level). The combination of a reduced pH with a heatwave event caused Ellisolandia elongata to significantly increase photosynthetic activity. The high variability of calcification that occurred during simulated night time conditions, indicates that there is not a simple, linear relationship between these two and may indicate that it will resilient to future conditions of climate change.
In contrast, the associated fauna were particularly negatively affected by the heatwave event, which impoverished the communities as opportunistic taxa became dominant. Local increases in oxygen and pH driven by the algae can buffer the microhabitat in the algal fronds, thus favouring the survival of small invertebrates.
Anthropogenic carbon emissions are causing changes in seawater carbonate chemistry including a decline in the pH of the oceans. While its aftermath for calcifying microbes has been widely studied, the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on marine viruses and their microbial hosts is controversial, and even more in combination with another anthropogenic stressor, i.e., human-induced nutrient loads. In this study, two mesocosm acidification experiments with Mediterranean waters from different seasons revealed distinct effects of OA on viruses and viral-mediated prokaryotic mortality depending on the trophic state and the successional stage of the plankton community. In the winter bloom situation, low fluorescence viruses, the most abundant virus-like particle (VLP) subpopulation comprising mostly bacteriophages, were negatively affected by lowered pH with nutrient addition, while the bacterial host abundance was stimulated. High fluorescence viruses, containing cyanophages, were stimulated by OA regardless of the nutrient conditions, while cyanobacteria of the genus Synechococcus were negatively affected by OA. Moreover, the abundance of very high fluorescence viruses infecting small haptophytes tended to be lower under acidification while their putative hosts’ abundance was enhanced, suggesting a direct and negative effect of OA on viral–host interactions. In the oligotrophic summer situation, we found a stimulating effect of OA on total viral abundance and the viral populations, suggesting a cascading effect of the elevated pCO2 stimulating autotrophic and heterotrophic production. In winter, viral lysis accounted for 30 ± 16% of the loss of bacterial standing stock per day (VMMBSS) under increased pCO2 compared to 53 ± 35% in the control treatments, without effects of nutrient additions while in summer, OA had no significant effects on VMMBSS (35 ± 20% and 38 ± 5% per day in the OA and control treatments, respectively). We found that phage production and resulting organic carbon release rates significantly reduced under OA in the nutrient replete winter situation, but it was also observed that high nutrient loads lowered the negative effect of OA on viral lysis, suggesting an antagonistic interplay between these two major global ocean stressors in the Anthropocene. In summer, however, viral-mediated carbon release rates were lower and not affected by lowered pH. Eutrophication consistently stimulated viral production regardless of the season or initial conditions. Given the relevant role of viruses for marine carbon cycling and the biological carbon pump, these two anthropogenic stressors may modulate carbon fluxes through their effect on viruses at the base of the pelagic food web in a future global change scenario.
Acidified marine systems represent “natural laboratories”, which provide opportunities to investigate the impacts of ocean acidification on different living components, including microbes. Here, we compared the benthic microbial response in four naturally acidified sites within the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea characterized by different acidification sources (i.e., CO2 emissions at Ischia, mixed gases at Panarea and Basiluzzo and acidified freshwater from karst rocks at Presidiana) and pH values. We investigated prokaryotic abundance, activity and biodiversity, viral abundance and prokaryotic infections, along with the biochemical composition of the sediment organic matter. We found that, despite differences in local environmental dynamics, viral life strategies change in acidified conditions from mainly lytic to temperate lifestyles (e.g., chronic infection), also resulting in a lowered impact on prokaryotic communities, which shift towards (chemo)autotrophic assemblages, with lower organic matter consumption. Taken together, these results suggest that ocean acidification exerts a deep control on microbial benthic assemblages, with important feedbacks on ecosystem functioning.
Global‐scale ocean acidification has spurred interest in the capacity of seagrass ecosystems to increase seawater pH within crucial shoreline habitats through photosynthetic activity. However, the dynamic variability of the coastal carbonate system has impeded generalization into whether seagrass aerobic metabolism ameliorates low pH on physiologically and ecologically relevant timescales. Here we present results of the most extensive study to date of pH modulation by seagrasses, spanning seven meadows (Zostera marina) and 1000 km of U.S. west coast over 6 years. Amelioration by seagrass ecosystems compared to non‐vegetated areas occurred 65% of the time (mean increase 0.07 ± 0.008 SE). Events of continuous elevation in pH within seagrass ecosystems, indicating amelioration of low pH, were longer and of greater magnitude than opposing cases of reduced pH or exacerbation. Sustained elevations in pH of >0.1, comparable to a 30% decrease in [H+], were not restricted only to daylight hours but instead persisted for up to 21 days. Maximal pH elevations occurred in spring and summer during the seagrass growth season, with a tendency for stronger effects in higher latitude meadows. These results indicate that seagrass meadows can locally alleviate low pH conditions for extended periods of time with important implications for the conservation and management of coastal ecosystems.