Posts Tagged 'abundance'

Resilience of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula to ocean acidification extends to the physiological level

Both juvenile and adult life stages of the temperate scleractinian coral Oculina arbuscula are resilient to the effects of moderate ocean acidification (OA) in contrast to many tropical corals in which growth and calcification rates are suppressed. Here, potential mechanisms of resilience to OA related to photosynthetic physiology and inorganic carbon processing were studied in adult O. arbuscula colonies. After exposing colonies to ambient and elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) treatments for 7 weeks, photosynthetic performance was characterized using photosynthesis versus irradiance experiments, chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics, and algal pigment content. Inorganic carbon-processing capabilities were assessed by measurement of internal and external carbonic anhydrase activity of the coral host, internal carbonic anhydrase activity of symbiotic algae, and the reliance of photosynthesis on external carbonic anhydrase. Photosynthetic physiology was unaffected by OA ruling out the possibility that resilience was mediated by increased photosynthetic energy supply. Carbonic anhydrase activities were maintained at elevated CO2 suggesting no major rearrangements of the inorganic carbon-processing machinery, but this could be a sign of resilience since tropical corals often down-regulate carbonic anhydrases at high CO2. The general lack of effect of ocean acidification on these physiological traits suggests other characteristics, such as maintenance of calcifying fluid pH and ability to acquire energy from heterotrophy, may be more important for the resilience of O. arbuscula to OA.

Continue reading ‘Resilience of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula to ocean acidification extends to the physiological level’

Microcalcareous seaweeds as sentinels of trophic changes and CO2 trapping in transitional water systems


  • The presence of microcalcareous macroalgae was studied in the Italian lagoons.
  • Macroalgal growth was mainly affected by changes in the pH of the water column.
  • Small algae are a Litmus Test Paper Strip for environmental quality assessment.
  • Carbonated are accumulated in surface sediments by small calcareous macroalgae.
  • The CO2 abatement occurred in environments of good-high ecological conditions.


Microcalcareous epiphytic seaweeds (MES) are macroalgae more sensitive than aquatic angiosperms to environmental degradation and, with their presence/absence, these species act like sentinels providing useful information on the ecological status of environments. In this study, we analyzed the environmental parameters in water column and surface sediments in relation to macrophyte variables from 257 sites, distributed in the main Italian transitional water systems (TWS). The results showed that MES are strongly correlated to pH changes, the main parameter that regulates their presence/absence. The optimal growth range is between pH 7.80 and 8.35; out of these values their growth is reduced or hampered. In oxidized sediments the carbonate crusts, composed by Mg-Calcite (an unstable compound that in the sediments quickly turns into calcite), can permanently trap up to 2.47 tonnes ha−1 yr−1 of CO2, increasing sediment thickness of approx. 0.06–0.21 mm yr−1.

Continue reading ‘Microcalcareous seaweeds as sentinels of trophic changes and CO2 trapping in transitional water systems’

High light alongside elevated PCO2 alleviates thermal depression of photosynthesis in a hard coral (Pocillopora acuta)

The absorbtion of human-emitted CO2 by the oceans (elevated PCO2) is projected to alter the physiological performance of coral reef organisms by perturbing seawater chemistry (i.e. ocean acidification). Simultaneously, greenhouse gas emissions are driving ocean warming and changes in irradiance (through turbidity and cloud cover), which have the potential to influence the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs. Here, we explored whether physiological impacts of elevated PCO2 on a coral–algal symbiosis (Pocillopora acuta–Symbiodiniaceae) are mediated by light and/or temperature levels. In a 39 day experiment, elevated PCO2 (962 versus 431 µatm PCO2) had an interactive effect with midday light availability (400 versus 800 µmol photons m−2 s−1) and temperature (25 versus 29°C) on areal gross and net photosynthesis, for which a decline at 29°C was ameliorated under simultaneous high-PCO2 and high-light conditions. Light-enhanced dark respiration increased under elevated PCO2 and/or elevated temperature. Symbiont to host cell ratio and chlorophyll a per symbiont increased at elevated temperature, whilst symbiont areal density decreased. The ability of moderately strong light in the presence of elevated PCO2 to alleviate the temperature-induced decrease in photosynthesis suggests that higher substrate availability facilitates a greater ability for photochemical quenching, partially offsetting the impacts of high temperature on the photosynthetic apparatus. Future environmental changes that result in moderate increases in light levels could therefore assist the P. acuta holobiont to cope with the ‘one–two punch’ of rising temperatures in the presence of an acidifying ocean.

Continue reading ‘High light alongside elevated PCO2 alleviates thermal depression of photosynthesis in a hard coral (Pocillopora acuta)’

The effects of ocean acidification and warming on growth of a natural community of coastal phytoplankton

An in situ mesocosm experiment was performed to investigate the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming on the coastal phytoplankton standing stock and species composition of a eutrophic coastal area in the temperate-subtropical region. Experimental treatments of natural seawater included three CO2 and two temperature conditions (present control: ~400 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature, acidification conditions: ~900 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature, and greenhouse conditions: ~900 μatm CO2 and ambient temperature +3 °C). We found that increased CO2 concentration benefited the growth of small autotrophic phytoplankton groups: picophytoplankton (PP), autotrophic nanoflagellates (ANF), and small chain-forming diatoms (DT). However, in the greenhouse conditions, ANF and DT abundances were lower compared with those in the acidification conditions. The proliferation of small autotrophic phytoplankton in future oceanic conditions (acidification and greenhouse) also increased the abundance of heterotrophic dinoflagellates (HDF). These responses suggest that a combination of acidification and warming will not only increase the small autotrophic phytoplankton standing stock but, also, lead to a shift in the diatom and dinoflagellate species composition, with potential biogeochemical element cycling feedback and an increased frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms.

Continue reading ‘The effects of ocean acidification and warming on growth of a natural community of coastal phytoplankton’

Declines over the last two decades of five intertidal invertebrate species in the western North Atlantic

Climate change has already altered the environmental conditions of the world’s oceans. Here we report declines in gastropod abundances and recruitment of mussels (Mytilus edulis) and barnacles (Semibalanus balanoides) over the last two decades that are correlated with changes in temperature and ocean conditions. Mussel recruitment is declining by 15.7% per year, barnacle recruitment by 5.0% per year, and abundances of three common gastropods are declining by an average of 3.1% per year (Testudinalia testudinalisLittorina littorea, and Nucella lapillus). The declines in mussels and the common periwinkle (L. littorea) are correlated with warming sea temperatures and the declines in T. testudinalis and N. lapillus are correlated with aragonite saturation state, which affects rates of shell calcification. These species are common on shores throughout the North Atlantic and their loss is likely to lead to simplification of an important food web on rocky shores.

Continue reading ‘Declines over the last two decades of five intertidal invertebrate species in the western North Atlantic’

Diel vertical migration into anoxic and high-pCO2 waters: acoustic and net-based krill observations in the Humboldt Current

A select group of marine organisms can enter the Oxygen Minimum Zones (OMZs) and even anoxic waters, while performing diel vertical migration (DVM). DVM of the euphausiid Euphausia eximia off northern Chile in the spring of 2015 was documented based on acoustic measurements using an echo sounder along with net samplings. Dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations were obtained using a vertical profiler, and water samples were collected to obtain in situ nitrite (NO2) concentrations as well as pHT, total alkalinity (AT), and therefore carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2) was estimated. Krill were found to migrate up to the surface (0–50 m) during the night and returned to ca. 200–300 m depth during the day, spending between 11 and 14 h at these layers. At the surface, DO and NO2 concentrations were 208 and 0.14 μM respectively, while pHT was 8.04 and 405 μatm pCO2. In contrast, at the deeper layers (200–300 m), DO and NO2 were < 3 and 6.3 μM respectively, with pHT 7.53 and 1490 μatm pCO2. The pHT and high pCO2 values at depths represent the conditions predicted for open ocean waters in a worst-case global warming scenario by 2150. The acoustic scatter suggested that > 60% of the krill swarms enter the OMZ and anoxic waters during the daytime. These frequent migrations suggest that krill can tolerate such extreme conditions associated with anoxic and high-pCO2 waters. The inferences drawn from the observation of these migrations might have strong implications for the current oceanic carbon pump models, highlighting the need for understanding the molecular and physiological adaptations allowing these migrations.

Continue reading ‘Diel vertical migration into anoxic and high-pCO2 waters: acoustic and net-based krill observations in the Humboldt Current’

A new “business as usual” climate scenario and the stress response of the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa

The climate change related decline of shallow (<30 m) coral reef ecosystems has been driven by the mortality of scleractinian corals caused primarily by the phenomenon known as “coral bleaching.” But despite pervasive phase shifts and macroalgal dominance on many coral reefs, some coral species have persisted. One of those species is Montastraea cavernosa which has been categorized as resilient to a range of biotic and abiotic stressors. In order to understand the mechanism(s) of resistance in this coral, we present the results of a thermal stress and ocean acidification (OA) experiment on M. cavernosa, both its brown and orange color morphs, representing conditions predicted by the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 6.0 scenario in the year 2100. We assessed the community response of the prokaryotic microbiome, the photophysiological response of the endosymbiotic Symbiodiniaceae and the molecular responses of critical pathways in the host by quantifying transcript abundances of genes encoding fluorescent proteins, heat shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes and regulators of apoptosis. After a 12 d acclimatization experiment, no visible bleaching was observed in any treatment, and the excitation pressure on photosystem II of the symbiotic Symbiodiniaceae showed no effects of the independent or interactive effects of thermal stress and OA, while only minor, but significant, changes in the prokaryotic microbiome were observed when exposed to RCP 6.0 predicted OA conditions. At the end of the experiment, the host heat shock protein 90 showed an increase in transcript abundance under the combined effects of thermal stress and OA compared to high temperatures alone, but these treatment groups were not significantly different from treatments under normal temperatures. While Bax, an activator of apoptosis, was significantly higher under thermal stress alone compared to control samples. Taken together, M. cavernosa, exhibits ecological stability over time and this may be based on its physiological persistence, resistance and resilience when experimentally exposed to the ecologically realistic RCP 6.0 climate model predictions.

Continue reading ‘A new “business as usual” climate scenario and the stress response of the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa’

Response of bacterial communities in Barents Sea sediments in case of a potential CO2 leakage from carbon reservoirs


  • Simulation of real conditions of a CCS site are essentials for environmental risk assessments.

  • Marine bacteria may adapt to a new situation in case of acidification event for a short time.

  • Marine bacteria community is altered in case of a CO2 leakage after 3 weeks in long-term simulation.

  • Results did not show a potential recovery of marine bacteria when CO2 was stopped within the monitored period.


Carbon capture and storage sites in Barents Sea shelf are currently in progress as part of climate change mitigation activities. However environmental impacts of a possible CO2 seepage on bacterial community are lacking knowledge. This work addressed potential consequences on bacterial communities from Snøvit region in Barents Sea sediments. Long-term experiment (92 days) was carried out mimicking realistic conditions of pressure (∼30 bars) using the unique hyperbaric chamber (Karl Erik TiTank). The experiment was divided in three stages: i) 21 days of no CO2, ii) 50 days of simulation of carbon dioxide leakage (depletion of pH to 7.0) and iii) 14 days emulating a leakage cessation. Results suggested that bacterial communities can adapt to a CO2 leakage in short term. However, bacteria showed negative effects in terms of activity, community structure, and number of cells after long term CO2 exposure. After CO2 leakage cessation, bacterial communities did not show a significant recovery. These findings highlighted that, even though marine bacteria showed adaptation to the new conditions (acidified environment), in case of a small but continuous CO2 leakage marine bacteria might not be recovered upon pre-exposure status.

    Continue reading ‘Response of bacterial communities in Barents Sea sediments in case of a potential CO2 leakage from carbon reservoirs’

    Co-culture with Synechococcus facilitates growth of Prochlorococcus under ocean acidification conditions

    Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are projected to lower the pH of the ocean 0.3 units by 2100. Previous studies suggested that Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, the numerically dominant phytoplankton in the oceans, have different responses to elevated CO2 that may result in a dramatic shift in their relative abundances in future oceans. Here we showed that the exponential growth rates of these two genera respond to future CO2 conditions in a manner similar to other cyanobacteria, but Prochlorococcus strains had significantly lower realized growth rates under elevated CO2 regimes due to poor survival after exposure to fresh culture media. Despite this, a Synechococcus strain was unable to outcompete a Prochlorococcus strain in co‐culture at elevated CO2. Under these conditions, Prochlorococcus‘ poor response to elevated CO2 disappeared, and Prochlorococcus’ relative fitness showed negative frequency dependence, with both competitors having significant fitness advantages when initially rare. These experiments suggested that the two strains should be able to co‐exist indefinitely in co‐culture despite sharing nearly identical nutritional requirements. We speculate that negative frequency dependence exists due to reductive Black Queen evolution that has resulted in a passively mutualistic relationship analogous to that connecting Prochlorococcus with the “helper” heterotrophic microbes in its environment.

    Continue reading ‘Co-culture with Synechococcus facilitates growth of Prochlorococcus under ocean acidification conditions’

    Remnant kelp bed refugia and future phase-shifts under ocean acidification

    Ocean warming, ocean acidification and overfishing are major threats to the structure and function of marine ecosystems. Driven by increasing anthropogenic emissions of CO2, ocean warming is leading to global redistribution of marine biota and altered ecosystem dynamics, while ocean acidification threatens the ability of calcifying marine organisms to form skeletons due to decline in saturation state of carbonate Ω and pH. In Tasmania, the interaction between overfishing of sea urchin predators and rapid ocean warming has caused a phase-shift from productive kelp beds to overgrazed sea urchin barren grounds, however potential impacts of ocean acidification on this system have not been considered despite this threat for marine ecosystems globally. Here we use automated loggers and point measures of pH, spanning kelp beds and barren grounds, to reveal that kelp beds have the capacity to locally ameliorate effects of ocean acidification, via photosynthetic drawdown of CO2, compared to unvegetated barren grounds. Based on meta-analysis of anticipated declines in physiological performance of grazing urchins to decreasing pH and assumptions of nil adaptation, future projection of OA across kelp-barrens transition zones reveals that kelp beds could act as important pH refugia, with urchins potentially becoming increasingly challenged at distances >40 m from kelp beds. Using spatially explicit simulation of physicochemical feedbacks between grazing urchins and their kelp prey, we show a stable mosaicked expression of kelp patches to emerge on barren grounds. Depending on the adaptative capacity of sea urchins, future declines in pH appear poised to further alter phase-shift dynamics for reef communities; thus, assessing change in spatial-patterning of reef-scapes may indicate cascading ecological impacts of ocean acidification.

    Continue reading ‘Remnant kelp bed refugia and future phase-shifts under ocean acidification’

    Subscribe to the RSS feed

    Powered by FeedBurner

    Follow AnneMarin on Twitter

    Blog Stats

    • 1,399,845 hits


    Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

    OUP book