Posts Tagged 'abundance'

Abiotic drivers of interannual phytoplankton variability and a 1999–2000 regime shift in the North Sea examined by multivariate statistics

The Dutch coastal zone is a region of the North Sea with a marked interannual and long‐term abiotic and phytoplankton variability. To investigate the relationship between abiotic variability and phytoplankton composition, two routine water monitoring data sets (1991–2005) were examined. Multivariate statistics revealed two significant partitions in the data. The first consisted of interannual abiotic fluctuations that were correlated to Rhine discharge that affected the abundance of summer and autumn diatom species. The second partition was caused by a shift in the abiotic data from 1998 to 1999 that was followed by a shift in phytoplankton composition from 1999 to 2000. Important factors in the abiotic shift were decreases in suspended matter (SPM) and phosphate (DIP) concentrations, as well as in pH. The decrease in SPM was caused by a reduction in wind speed. The increase in water column daily irradiance from the decrease in SPM led to increases in the abundance of winter–spring species, notably the prymnesiophyte Phaeocystis globosa. Because wind speed is related to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index it was possible to correlate NAO index and P. globosa abundance. Only five abiotic variables representing interannual and long‐term variability, including Rhine discharge and NAO index, were needed to model the observed partitions in phytoplankton composition. It was concluded that interannual variability in the coastal phytoplankton composition was related to year‐to‐year changes in river discharge while the long‐term shift was caused by an alternating large‐scale meteorological phenomenon.

Continue reading ‘Abiotic drivers of interannual phytoplankton variability and a 1999–2000 regime shift in the North Sea examined by multivariate statistics’

Effects of long-term exposure to reduced pH conditions on the shell and survival of an intertidal gastropod


• Prolonged exposures to high pCO2 can severely affect Phorcus sauciatus shell.

• No effects of high pCO2 were found on size-frequency or population density of P. sauciatus.

• Shells from reduced pH sites exhibited a higher shell aspect ratio and greater percentages of shell dissolution and break.

• Shells from high pCO2 areas exhibited changes in mechanical strength.

• Similar desiccation tolerance was found among contrasting environment populations.


Volcanic CO2 vents are useful environments for investigating the biological responses of marine organisms to changing ocean conditions (Ocean acidification, OA). Marine shelled molluscs are highly sensitive to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. In this study, we investigated the effects of reduced pH on the intertidal gastropod, Phorcus sauciatus, in a volcanic CO2 vent off La Palma Island (Canary Islands, North East Atlantic Ocean), a location with a natural pH gradient ranging from 7.0 to 8.2 over the tidal cycles. Density and size-frequency distribution, shell morphology, shell integrity, fracture resistance, and desiccation tolerance were evaluated between populations from control and CO2 vent sites. We found no effects of reduced pH on population parameters or desiccation tolerance across the pH gradient, but significant differences in shell morphology, shell integrity, and fracture resistance were detected. Individuals from the CO2 vent site exhibited a higher shell aspect ratio, greater percentages of shell dissolution and break, and compromised shell strength than those from the control site. Our results highlight that long-term exposure to high pCO2 can negatively affect the shell features of P. sauciatus but may not have a significant effect on population performance. Moreover, we suggest that loss of shell properties could lead to changes in predator-prey interactions.

Continue reading ‘Effects of long-term exposure to reduced pH conditions on the shell and survival of an intertidal gastropod’

Mangrove lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef support coral populations persisting under extreme environmental conditions

Global degradation of coral reefs has increased the urgency of identifying stress-tolerant coral populations, to enhance understanding of the biology driving stress tolerance, as well as identifying stocks of stress-hardened populations to aid reef rehabilitation. Surprisingly, scientists are continually discovering that naturally extreme environments house established coral populations adapted to grow within extreme abiotic conditions comparable to seawater conditions predicted over the coming century. Such environments include inshore mangrove lagoons that carry previously unrecognised ecosystem service value for corals, spanning from refuge to stress preconditioning. However, the existence of such hot-spots of resilience on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) remains entirely unknown. Here we describe, for the first time, 2 extreme GBR mangrove lagoons (Woody Isles and Howick Island), exposing taxonomically diverse coral communities (34 species, 7 growth morphologies) to regular extreme low pH (<7.6), low oxygen (7°C) conditions. Coral cover was typically low (0.5 m diameter), with net photosynthesis and calcification rates of 2 dominant coral species (Acropora millepora, Porites lutea) reduced (20-30%), and respiration enhanced (11-35%), in the mangrove lagoon relative to adjacent reefs. Further analysis revealed that physiological plasticity (photosynthetic ‘strategy’) and flexibility of Symbiodiniaceae taxa associations appear crucial in supporting coral capacity to thrive from reef to lagoon. Prevalence of corals within these extreme conditions on the GBR (and elsewhere) increasingly challenge our understanding of coral resilience to stressors, and highlight the need to study unfavourable coral environments to better resolve mechanisms of stress tolerance.

Continue reading ‘Mangrove lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef support coral populations persisting under extreme environmental conditions’

The Arctic picoeukaryote Micromonas pusilla benefits from ocean acidification under constant and dynamic light

Compared to the rest of the globe, the Arctic Ocean is affected disproportionately by climate change. Despite these fast environmental changes, we currently know little about the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on marine key species in this area. Moreover, the existing studies typically test the effects of OA under constant, hence artificial light fields. In this study, the abundant Arctic picoeukaryote Micromonas pusilla was acclimated to current (400 μatm) and future (1000 μatm) pCO2 levels under a constant as well as dynamic light, simulating natural light fields as experienced in the upper mixed layer. To describe and understand the responses to these drivers, growth, particulate organic carbon (POC) production, elemental composition, photophysiology and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production were analysed. M. pusilla was able to benefit from OA on various scales, ranging from an increase in growth rates to enhanced photosynthetic capacity, irrespective of the light regime. These beneficial effects were, however, not reflected in the POC production rates, which can be explained by energy partitioning towards cell division rather than biomass build-up. In the dynamic light regime, M. pusilla was able to optimise its photophysiology for effective light usage during both low and high light periods. This effective photoacclimation, which was achieved by modifications to photosystem II (PSII), imposed high metabolic costs leading to a reduction in growth and POC production rates when compared to constant light. There were no significant interactions observed between dynamic light and OA, indicating that M. pusilla was able maintain effective photoacclimation without increased photoinactivation under high pCO2. Based on these findings, physiologically plastic M. pusilla may exhibit a robust positive response to future Arctic Ocean conditions.

Continue reading ‘The Arctic picoeukaryote Micromonas pusilla benefits from ocean acidification under constant and dynamic light’

Calcium carbonate alters the functional response of coastal sediments to eutrophication-induced acidification

Coastal ocean acidification research is dominated by laboratory-based studies that cannot necessarily predict real-world ecosystem response given its complexity. We enriched coastal sediments with increasing quantities of organic matter in the field to identify the effects of eutrophication-induced acidification on benthic structure and function, and assess whether biogenic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) would alter the response. Along the eutrophication gradient we observed declines in macrofauna biodiversity and impaired benthic net primary productivity and sediment nutrient cycling. CaCO3 addition did not alter the macrofauna community response, but significantly dampened negative effects on function (e.g. net autotrophy occurred at higher levels of organic matter enrichment in +CaCO3 treatments than −CaCO3 (1400 vs 950 g dw m−2)). By identifying the links between eutrophication, sediment biogeochemistry and benthic ecosystem structure and function in situ, our study represents a crucial step forward in understanding the ecological effects of coastal acidification and the role of biogenic CaCO3 in moderating responses.

Continue reading ‘Calcium carbonate alters the functional response of coastal sediments to eutrophication-induced acidification’

Acidification diminishes diatom silica production in the Southern Ocean

Diatoms, large bloom-forming marine microorganisms, build frustules out of silicate, which ballasts the cells and aids their export to the deep ocean. This unique physiology forges an important link between the marine silicon and carbon cycles. However, the effect of ocean acidification on the silicification of diatoms is unclear. Here we show that diatom silicification strongly diminishes with increased acidity in a natural Antarctic community. Analyses of single cells from within the community reveal that the effect of reduced pH on silicification differs among taxa, with several species having significantly reduced silica incorporation at CO2 levels equivalent to those projected for 2100. These findings suggest that, before the end of this century, ocean acidification may influence the carbon and silicon cycle by both altering the composition of the diatom assemblages and reducing cell ballasting, which will probably alter vertical flux of these elements to the deep ocean.

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Effects of spectral light quality and carbon dioxide on the physiology of Micractinium inermum: growth, photosynthesis, and biochemical composition

Growth, photosynthetic parameters, and biochemical composition of the chlorophyte Micractinium inermum were determined under conditions of different light-emitting diode (LED) wavelength distributions and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels of 1, 5, and 10% v/v. Increasing the inflowing CO2 concentration from 1 to 5 to 10% had negative effects on maximum growth rate (μmax), relative growth rate (RGR), biomass production, and CO2 fixation rate. Cultures subjected to a spectral distribution containing a blue wavelength peak were less negatively affected than red as CO2 stress increased, and evidently there was a quantitative effect depending on the peak area percentage. Under non-stressful conditions (1% CO2), there were no significant differences in μmax or RGR among light treatments; however, blue light resulted in decreased lag phases (0.75 less days than red). Biomass production was significantly higher in red wavelength peak treatments at 1% CO2 (i.e., monochromatic red treatment = 0.772 ± 0.07 g L−1) which demonstrates that although blue light allows for an early growth advantage, cultures grown with red light are able to catch up and result in more biomass. At a 10% CO2 level, RGR was higher in treatments with blue peaks; red peak treatments were no longer able to overcome the stress and demonstrated lag phases 4.87 days longer than blue peak treatments. Inhibition of photosystem II function was evident as CO2 concentrations increased. Evaluation of biochemical composition revealed that protein content was significantly greater in blue peak treatments at 10% CO2, pigment content was up to 2× greater than red at all CO2 levels, and total FAME and fatty acid profiles did not exhibit major changes.

Continue reading ‘Effects of spectral light quality and carbon dioxide on the physiology of Micractinium inermum: growth, photosynthesis, and biochemical composition’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book