Posts Tagged 'abundance'

Ecophysiological responses to elevated CO2 and temperature in Cystoseira tamariscifolia (Phaeophyceae)

Ocean acidification increases the amount of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) available in seawater which can benefit photosynthesis in those algae that are currently carbon limited, leading to shifts in the structure and function of seaweed communities. Recent studies have shown that ocean acidification-driven shifts in seaweed community dominance will depend on interactions with other factors such as light and nutrients. The study of interactive effects of ocean acidification and warming can help elucidate the likely effects of climate change on marine primary producers. In this study, we investigated the ecophysiological responses of Cystoseira tamariscifolia (Hudson) Papenfuss. This large brown macroalga plays an important structural role in coastal Mediterranean communities. Algae were collected from both oligotrophic and ultraoligotrophic waters in southern Spain. They were then incubated in tanks at ambient (ca. 400–500 ppm) and high CO2 (ca. 1200–1300 ppm), and at 20 °C (ambient temperature) and 24 °C (ambient temperature +4 °C). Increased CO2 levels benefited the algae from both origins. Biomass increased in elevated CO2 treatments and was similar in algae from both origins. The maximal electron transport rate (ETRmax), used to estimate photosynthetic capacity, increased in ambient temperature/high CO2 treatments. The highest polyphenol content and antioxidant activity were observed in ambient temperature/high CO2 conditions in algae from both origins; phenol content was higher in algae from ultraoligotrophic waters (1.5–3.0%) than that from oligotrophic waters (1.0–2.2%). Our study shows that ongoing ocean acidification can be expected to increase algal productivity (ETRmax), boost antioxidant activity (EC50), and increase production of photoprotective phenols. Cystoseira tamariscifolia collected from oligotrophic and ultraoligotrophic waters were able to benefit from increases in DIC at ambient temperatures. Warming, not acidification, may be the key stressor for this habitat as CO2 levels continue to rise.

Continue reading ‘Ecophysiological responses to elevated CO2 and temperature in Cystoseira tamariscifolia (Phaeophyceae)’

Influence of ocean acidification and deep water upwelling on oligotrophic plankton communities in the subtropical North Atlantic: Insights from an in situ mesocosm study

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) causes pronounced shifts in marine carbonate chemistry and a decrease in seawater pH. Increasing evidence indicates that these changes – summarized by the term ocean acidification (OA) – can significantly affect marine food webs and biogeochemical cycles. However, current scientific knowledge is largely based on laboratory experiments with single species and artificial boundary conditions, whereas studies of natural plankton communities are still relatively rare. Moreover, the few existing community-level studies were mostly conducted in rather eutrophic environments, while less attention has been paid to oligotrophic systems such as the subtropical ocean gyres.

Here we report from a recent in situ mesocosm experiment off the coast of Gran Canaria in the eastern subtropical North Atlantic, where we investigated the influence of OA on the ecology and biogeochemistry of plankton communities in oligotrophic waters under close-to-natural conditions. This paper is the first in this Research Topic of Frontiers in Marine Biogeochemistry and provides (1) a detailed overview of the experimental design and important events during our mesocosm campaign, and (2) first insights into the ecological responses of plankton communities to simulated OA over the course of the 62-day experiment.

One particular scientific objective of our mesocosm experiment was to investigate how OA impacts might differ between oligotrophic conditions and phases of high biological productivity, which regularly occur in response to upwelling of nutrient-rich deep water in the study region. Therefore, we specifically developed a deep water collection system that allowed us to obtain ~85 m3 of seawater from ~650 m depth. Thereby, we replaced ~20% of each mesocosm’s volume with deep water, and thus successfully simulated a deep water upwelling event that induced a pronounced plankton bloom.

Our study revealed significant effects of OA on the entire food web, leading to a restructuring of plankton communities that emerged during the oligotrophic phase, and was further amplified during the bloom that developed in response to deep water addition. Such CO2-related shifts in plankton community composition could have consequences for ecosystem productivity, biomass transfer to higher trophic levels, and biogeochemical element cycling of oligotrophic ocean regions.

Continue reading ‘Influence of ocean acidification and deep water upwelling on oligotrophic plankton communities in the subtropical North Atlantic: Insights from an in situ mesocosm study’

Change in Emiliania huxleyi virus assemblage diversity but not in host genetic composition during an ocean acidification mesocosm experiment

Effects of elevated pCO2 on Emiliania huxleyi genetic diversity and the viruses that infect E. huxleyi (EhVs) have been investigated in large volume enclosures in a Norwegian fjord. Triplicate enclosures were bubbled with air enriched with CO2 to 760 ppmv whilst the other three enclosures were bubbled with air at ambient pCO2; phytoplankton growth was initiated by the addition of nitrate and phosphate. E. huxleyi was the dominant coccolithophore in all enclosures, but no difference in genetic diversity, based on DGGE analysis using primers specific to the calcium binding protein gene (gpa) were detected in any of the treatments. Chlorophyll concentrations and primary production were lower in the three elevated pCO2 treatments than in the ambient treatments. However, although coccolithophores numbers were reduced in two of the high-pCO2 treatments; in the third, there was no suppression of coccolithophores numbers, which were very similar to the three ambient treatments. In contrast, there was considerable variation in genetic diversity in the EhVs, as determined by analysis of the major capsid protein (mcp) gene. EhV diversity was much lower in the high-pCO2 treatment enclosure that did not show inhibition of E. huxleyi growth. Since virus infection is generally implicated as a major factor in terminating phytoplankton blooms, it is suggested that no study of the effect of ocean acidification in phytoplankton can be complete if it does not include an assessment of viruses.

Continue reading ‘Change in Emiliania huxleyi virus assemblage diversity but not in host genetic composition during an ocean acidification mesocosm experiment’

Effects of ocean acidification on primary production in a coastal North Sea phytoplankton community

We studied the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on a coastal North Sea plankton community in a long-term mesocosm CO2-enrichment experiment (BIOACID II long-term mesocosm study). From March to July 2013, 10 mesocosms of 19 m length with a volume of 47.5 to 55.9 m3 were deployed in the Gullmar Fjord, Sweden. CO2 concentrations were enriched in five mesocosms to reach average CO2 partial pressures (pCO2) of 760 μatm. The remaining five mesocosms were used as control at ambient pCO2 of 380 μatm. Our paper is part of a PLOS collection on this long-term mesocosm experiment. Here, we here tested the effect of OA on total primary production (PPT) by performing 14C-based bottle incubations for 24 h. Furthermore, photoacclimation was assessed by conducting 14C-based photosynthesis-irradiance response (P/I) curves. Changes in chlorophyll a concentrations over time were reflected in the development of PPT, and showed higher phytoplankton biomass build-up under OA. We observed two subsequent phytoplankton blooms in all mesocosms, with peaks in PPT around day 33 and day 56. OA had no significant effect on PPT, except for a marginal increase during the second phytoplankton bloom when inorganic nutrients were already depleted. Maximum light use efficiencies and light saturation indices calculated from the P/I curves changed simultaneously in all mesocosms, and suggest that OA did not alter phytoplankton photoacclimation. Despite large variability in time-integrated productivity estimates among replicates, our overall results indicate that coastal phytoplankton communities can be affected by OA at certain times of the seasonal succession with potential consequences for ecosystem functioning.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on primary production in a coastal North Sea phytoplankton community’

Phytoplankton blooms at increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide: experimental evidence for negative effects on prymnesiophytes and positive on small picoeukaryotes

Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and the ongoing accumulation in the surface ocean together with concomitantly decreasing pH and calcium carbonate saturation states have the potential to impact phytoplankton community composition and therefore biogeochemical element cycling on a global scale. Here we report on a recent mesocosm CO2 perturbation study (Raunefjorden, Norway), with a focus on organic matter and phytoplankton dynamics. Cell numbers of three phytoplankton groups were particularly affected by increasing levels of seawater CO2 throughout the entire experiment, with the cyanobacterium Synechococcus and picoeukaryotes (prasinophytes) profiting, and the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi (prymnesiophyte) being negatively impacted. Combining these results with other phytoplankton community CO2 experiments into a data-set of global coverage suggests that, whenever CO2 effects are found, prymnesiophyte (coccolithophore) abundances are negatively affected, while the opposite holds true for small picoeukaryotes belonging to the class of prasinophytes, or the division of chlorophytes in general. Future reductions in calcium carbonate-producing coccolithophores, providing ballast which accelerates the sinking of particulate organic matter, together with increases in picoeukaryotes, an important component of the microbial loop in the euphotic zone, have the potential to impact marine export production, with feedbacks to Earth’s climate system.

Continue reading ‘Phytoplankton blooms at increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide: experimental evidence for negative effects on prymnesiophytes and positive on small picoeukaryotes’

Contrasting microbial community changes during mass extinctions at the Middle/Late Permian and Permian/Triassic boundaries

Microbial communities are known to expand as a result of environmental deterioration during mass extinctions, but differences in microbial community changes between extinction events and their underlying causes have received little study to date. Here, we present a systematic investigation of microbial lipid biomarkers spanning ∼20 Myr (Middle Permian to Early Triassic) at Shangsi, South China, to contrast microbial changes associated with the Guadalupian–Lopingian boundary (GLB) and Permian–Triassic boundary (PTB) mass extinctions. High-resolution analysis of the PTB crisis interval reveals a distinct succession of microbial communities based on secular variation in moretanes, 2-methylhopanes, aryl isoprenoids, steranes, n-alkyl cyclohexanes, and other biomarkers. The first episode of the PTB mass extinction (ME1) was associated with increases in red algae and nitrogen-fixing bacteria along with evidence for enhanced wildfires and elevated soil erosion, whereas the second episode was associated with expansions of green sulfur bacteria, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and acritarchs coinciding with climatic hyperwarming, ocean stratification, and seawater acidification. This pattern of microbial community change suggests that marine environmental deterioration was greater during the second extinction episode (ME2). The GLB shows more limited changes in microbial community composition and more limited environmental deterioration than the PTB, consistent with differences in species-level extinction rates (∼71% vs. 90%, respectively). Microbial biomarker records have the potential to refine our understanding of the nature of these crises and to provide insights concerning possible outcomes of present-day anthropogenic stresses on Earth’s ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Contrasting microbial community changes during mass extinctions at the Middle/Late Permian and Permian/Triassic boundaries’

pCO2 effects on species composition and growth of an estuarine phytoplankton community

The effects of ongoing changes in ocean carbonate chemistry on plankton ecology have important implications for food webs and biogeochemical cycling. However, conflicting results have emerged regarding species-specific responses to pCO2 enrichment and thus community responses have been difficult to predict. To assess community level effects (e.g., production) of altered carbonate chemistry, studies are needed that capitalize on the benefits of controlled experiments but also retain features of intact ecosystems that may exacerbate or ameliorate the effects observed in single-species or single cohort experiments. We performed incubations of natural plankton communities from Narragansett Bay, RI, USA in winter at ambient bay temperatures (5–13 °C), light and nutrient concentrations under three levels of controlled and constant CO2 concentrations, simulating past, present and future conditions at mean pCO2 levels of 224, 361, and 724 μatm respectively. Samples for carbonate analysis, chlorophyll a, plankton size-abundance, and plankton species composition were collected daily and phytoplankton growth rates in three different size fractions (<5, 5–20, and >20 μm) were measured at the end of the 7-day incubation period. Community composition changed during the incubation period with major increases in relative diatom abundance, which were similar across pCO2 treatments. At the end of the experiment, 24-hr growth responses to pCO2 levels varied as a function of cell size. The smallest size fraction (<5 μm) grew faster at the elevated pCO2 level. In contrast, the 5–20 μm size fraction grew fastest in the Present treatment and there were no significant differences in growth rate among treatments in the >20 μm size fraction. Cell size distribution shifted toward smaller cells in both the Past and Future treatments but remained unchanged in the Present treatment. Similarity in Past and Future treatments for cell size distribution and growth rate (5–20 μm size fraction) illustrate non-monotonic effects of increasing pCO2 on ecological indicators and may be related to opposing physiological effects of high CO2 and low pH both within and among species. Interaction of these effects with other factors (e.g., nutrients, light, temperature, grazing, initial species composition) may explain variability among published studies. The absence of clear treatment-specific effects at the community level suggest that extrapolation of species-specific responses or experiments with only present day and future pCO2 treatments levels would produce misleading predictions of ocean acidification impacts on plankton production.

Continue reading ‘pCO2 effects on species composition and growth of an estuarine phytoplankton community’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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