Posts Tagged 'adaptation'

Resilience by diversity: large intraspecific differences in climate change responses of an Arctic diatom

The potential for adaptation of phytoplankton to future climate is often extrapolated based on single strain responses of a representative species, ignoring variability within and between species. The aim of this study was to approximate the range of strain-specific reaction patterns within an Arctic diatom population, which selection can act upon. In a laboratory experiment, we first incubated natural communities from an Arctic fjord under present and future conditions. In a second step, single strains of the diatom Thalassiosira hyalina were isolated from these selection environments and exposed to a matrix of temperature (3°C and 6°C) and pCO2 levels (180 μatm, 370 μatm, 1000 μatm, 1400 μatm) to establish reaction norms for growth, production rates, and elemental quotas. The results revealed interactive effects of temperature and pCO2 as well as wide tolerance ranges. Between strains, however, sensitivities and optima differed greatly. These strain-specific responses corresponded well with their respective selection environments of the previous community incubation. We therefore hypothesize that intraspecific variability and the selection between coexisting strains may pose an underestimated source of species’ plasticity. Thus, adaptation of phytoplankton assemblages may also occur by selection within rather than only between species, and species-wide inferences from single strain experiments should be treated with caution.

Continue reading ‘Resilience by diversity: large intraspecific differences in climate change responses of an Arctic diatom’

Rapid evolution of highly variable competitive abilities in a key phytoplankton species

Climate change challenges plankton communities, but evolutionary adaptation could mitigate the potential impacts. Here, we tested with the phytoplankton species Emiliania huxleyi whether adaptation to a stressor under laboratory conditions leads to equivalent fitness gains in a more natural environment. We found that fitness advantages that had evolved under laboratory conditions were masked by pleiotropic effects in natural plankton communities. Moreover, new genotypes with highly variable competitive abilities evolved on timescales significantly shorter than climate change.

Continue reading ‘Rapid evolution of highly variable competitive abilities in a key phytoplankton species’

Long-term exposure to acidification disrupts reproduction in a marine invertebrate

Climate change research is advancing to more complex and more comprehensive studies that include long-term experiments, multiple life-history stages, multi-population, and multi-trait approaches. We used a population of the barnacle Balanus improvisus known to be sensitive to short-term acidification to determine its potential for long-term acclimation to acidification. We reared laboratory-bred individuals (as singles or pairs), and field-collected assemblages of barnacles, at pH 8.1 and 7.5 (≈ 400 and 1600 μatm pCO2 respectively) for up to 16 months. Acidification caused strong mortality and reduced growth rates. Acidification suppressed respiration rates and induced a higher feeding activity of barnacles after 6 months, but this suppression of respiration rate was absent after 15 months. Laboratory-bred barnacles developed mature gonads only when they were held in pairs, but nonetheless failed to produce fertilized embryos. Field-collected barnacles reared in the laboratory for 8 months at the same pH’s developed mature gonads, but only those in pH 8.1 produced viable embryos and larvae. Because survivors of long-term acidification were not capable of reproducing, this demonstrates that B. improvisus can only partially acclimate to long-term acidification. This represents a clear and significant bottleneck in the ontogeny of this barnacle population that may limit its potential to persist in a future ocean.

Continue reading ‘Long-term exposure to acidification disrupts reproduction in a marine invertebrate’

Intraspecific variation in the response of the scleractinian coral Acropora digitifera to ocean acidification

To examine the possible variation in responses of corals to ocean acidification (OA) among populations, we compared the sensitivity of two Okinawan populations (Sesoko and Bise) of the scleractinian coral Acropora digitifera to high pCO2. We found that both light and dark calcification rates of Sesoko corals did not change with an increase in seawater pCO2, while the calcification rates of Bise corals significantly decreased. Additionally, calcification rate of Sesoko corals was significantly lower than Bise corals at control conditions. Expressions of two putative calcification-related genes (BAT: bicarbonate transporter and galaxin) were up-regulated at high CO2 compared to the control and expression of the BAT gene was significantly higher in Sesoko compared to Bise corals. Consequently, differences in the calcification rate between populations and differences in the expression of genes related to inorganic carbon transport regulation could be reasons that explain the difference in the response to OA between the two populations. Furthermore, taking into account that Sesoko corals were located in relatively nearshore areas where the environmental conditions are more variable, while Bise corals were located in the forereef which shows more stable conditions, plasticity for coral calcification in response to different environmental conditions and/or acclimation response to changes such as seawater pCO2 may lead to differences in sensitivity between the two populations to high seawater pCO2. Studies considering the potential variability in corals sensitivity to OA among local populations from different habitats are important to predict the potential effects of climate change on reef ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Intraspecific variation in the response of the scleractinian coral Acropora digitifera to ocean acidification’

Transgenerational acclimation to seawater acidification in the Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum: preferential uptake of metabolic carbon

Ocean acidification may interfere with the calcifying physiology of marine bivalves. Therefore, understanding their capacity for acclimation and adaption to low pH over multiple generations is crucial to make predictions about the fate of this economically and ecologically important fauna in an acidifying ocean. Transgenerational exposure to an acidification scenario projected by the end of the century (i.e., pH 7.7) has been shown to confer resilience to juvenile offspring of the Manila clam, Ruditapes philippinarum. However, whether, and to what extent, this resilience can persist into adulthood are unknown and the mechanisms driving transgenerational acclimation remain poorly understood. The present study takes observations of Manila clam juveniles further into the adult stage and observes similar transgenerational responses. Under acidified conditions, clams originating from parents reproductively exposed to the same level of low pH show a significantly faster shell growth rate, a higher condition index and a lower standard metabolic rate than those without prior history of transgenerational acclimation. Further analyses of stable carbon isotopic signatures in dissolved inorganic carbon of seawater, individual soft tissues and shells reveal that up to 61% of shell carbonate comes from metabolic carbon, suggesting that transgenerationally acclimated clams may preferentially extract internal metabolic carbon rather than transport external seawater inorganic carbon to build shells, the latter known to be energetically expensive. While a large metabolic carbon contribution (45%) is seen in non-acclimated clams, a significant reduction in the rate of shell growth indicates it might occur at the expense of other calcification-relevant processes. It therefore seems plausible that, following transgenerational acclimation, R. philippinarum can implement a less costly and more efficient energy-utilizing strategy to mitigate the impact of seawater acidification. Collectively, our findings indicate that marine bivalves are more resilient to ocean acidification projected for the end of the century than previously thought.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational acclimation to seawater acidification in the Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum: preferential uptake of metabolic carbon’

Climate change could drive marine food web collapse through altered trophic flows and cyanobacterial proliferation

Global warming and ocean acidification are forecast to exert significant impacts on marine ecosystems worldwide. However, most of these projections are based on ecological proxies or experiments on single species or simplified food webs. How energy fluxes are likely to change in marine food webs in response to future climates remains unclear, hampering forecasts of ecosystem functioning. Using a sophisticated mesocosm experiment, we model energy flows through a species-rich multilevel food web, with live habitats, natural abiotic variability, and the potential for intra- and intergenerational adaptation. We show experimentally that the combined stress of acidification and warming reduced energy flows from the first trophic level (primary producers and detritus) to the second (herbivores), and from the second to the third trophic level (carnivores). Warming in isolation also reduced the energy flow from herbivores to carnivores, the efficiency of energy transfer from primary producers and detritus to herbivores and detritivores, and the living biomass of detritivores, herbivores, and carnivores. Whilst warming and acidification jointly boosted primary producer biomass through an expansion of cyanobacteria, this biomass was converted to detritus rather than to biomass at higher trophic levels—i.e., production was constrained to the base of the food web. In contrast, ocean acidification affected the food web positively by enhancing trophic flow from detritus and primary producers to herbivores, and by increasing the biomass of carnivores. Our results show how future climate change can potentially weaken marine food webs through reduced energy flow to higher trophic levels and a shift towards a more detritus-based system, leading to food web simplification and altered producer–consumer dynamics, both of which have important implications for the structuring of benthic communities.

Continue reading ‘Climate change could drive marine food web collapse through altered trophic flows and cyanobacterial proliferation’

A mineralogical record of ocean change: decadal and centennial patterns in the California mussel

Ocean acidification, a product of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, may already have affected calcified organisms in the coastal zone, such as bivalves and other shellfish. Understanding species’ responses to climate change requires the context of long-term dynamics. This can be particularly difficult given the longevity of many important species in contrast with the relatively rapid onset of environmental changes. Here, we present a unique archival dataset of mussel shells from a locale with recent environmental monitoring and historical climate reconstructions. We compare shell structure and composition in modern mussels, mussels from the 1970s, and mussel shells dating back to 1000–2420 years BP. Shell mineralogy has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, despite evidence for consistent mineral structure in the California mussel, Mytilus californianus, over the prior 2500 years. We present evidence for increased disorder in the calcium carbonate shells of mussels and greater variability between individuals. These changes in the last decade contrast markedly from a background of consistent shell mineralogy for centuries. Our results use an archival record of natural specimens to provide centennial-scale context for altered minerology and variability in shell features as a response to acidification stress and illustrate the utility of long-term studies and archival records in global change ecology. Increased variability between individuals is an emerging pattern in climate change responses, which may equally expose the vulnerability of organisms and the potential of populations for resilience.

Continue reading ‘A mineralogical record of ocean change: decadal and centennial patterns in the California mussel’


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