Posts Tagged 'adaptation'

Naturally acidified habitat selects for ocean acidification–tolerant mussels

Ocean acidification severely affects bivalves, especially their larval stages. Consequently, the fate of this ecologically and economically important group depends on the capacity and rate of evolutionary adaptation to altered ocean carbonate chemistry. We document successful settlement of wild mussel larvae (Mytilus edulis) in a periodically CO2-enriched habitat. The larval fitness of the population originating from the CO2-enriched habitat was compared to the response of a population from a nonenriched habitat in a common garden experiment. The high CO2–adapted population showed higher fitness under elevated PCO2 (partial pressure of CO2) than the non-adapted cohort, demonstrating, for the first time, an evolutionary response of a natural mussel population to ocean acidification. To assess the rate of adaptation, we performed a selection experiment over three generations. CO2 tolerance differed substantially between the families within the F1 generation, and survival was drastically decreased in the highest, yet realistic, PCO2 treatment. Selection of CO2-tolerant F1 animals resulted in higher calcification performance of F2 larvae during early shell formation but did not improve overall survival. Our results thus reveal significant short-term selective responses of traits directly affected by ocean acidification and long-term adaptation potential in a key bivalve species. Because immediate response to selection did not directly translate into increased fitness, multigenerational studies need to take into consideration the multivariate nature of selection acting in natural habitats. Combinations of short-term selection with long-term adaptation in populations from CO2-enriched versus nonenriched natural habitats represent promising approaches for estimating adaptive potential of organisms facing global change.

Continue reading ‘Naturally acidified habitat selects for ocean acidification–tolerant mussels’

Mitochondrial acclimation potential to ocean acidification and warming of Polar cod (Boreogadus saida) and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)


Ocean acidification and warming are happening fast in the Arctic but little is known about the effects of ocean acidification and warming on the physiological performance and survival of Arctic fish.


In this study we investigated the metabolic background of performance through analyses of cardiac mitochondrial function in response to control and elevated water temperatures and PCO2 of two gadoid fish species, Polar cod (Boreogadus saida), an endemic Arctic species, and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), which is a temperate to cold eurytherm and currently expanding into Arctic waters in the wake of ocean warming. We studied their responses to the above-mentioned drivers and their acclimation potential through analysing the cardiac mitochondrial function in permeabilised cardiac muscle fibres after 4 months of incubation at different temperatures (Polar cod: 0, 3, 6, 8 °C and Atlantic cod: 3, 8, 12, 16 °C), combined with exposure to present (400μatm) and year 2100 (1170μatm) levels of CO2.

OXPHOS, proton leak and ATP production efficiency in Polar cod were similar in the groups acclimated at 400μatm and 1170μatm of CO2, while incubation at 8 °C evoked increased proton leak resulting in decreased ATP production efficiency and decreased Complex IV capacity. In contrast, OXPHOS of Atlantic cod increased with temperature without compromising the ATP production efficiency, whereas the combination of high temperature and high PCO2 depressed OXPHOS and ATP production efficiency.


Polar cod mitochondrial efficiency decreased at 8 °C while Atlantic cod mitochondria were more resilient to elevated temperature; however, this resilience was constrained by high PCO2. In line with its lower habitat temperature and higher degree of stenothermy, Polar cod has a lower acclimation potential to warming than Atlantic cod.

Continue reading ‘Mitochondrial acclimation potential to ocean acidification and warming of Polar cod (Boreogadus saida) and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)’

Carbon dioxide induced plasticity of branchial acid-base pathways in an estuarine teleost

Anthropogenic CO2 is expected to drive ocean pCO2 above 1,000 μatm by 2100 – inducing respiratory acidosis in fish that must be corrected through branchial ion transport. This study examined the time course and plasticity of branchial metabolic compensation in response to varying levels of CO2 in an estuarine fish, the red drum, which regularly encounters elevated CO2 and may therefore have intrinsic resilience. Under control conditions fish exhibited net base excretion; however, CO2 exposure resulted in a dose dependent increase in acid excretion during the initial 2 h. This returned to baseline levels during the second 2 h interval for exposures up to 5,000 μatm, but remained elevated for exposures above 15,000 μatm. Plasticity was assessed via gene expression in three CO2 treatments: environmentally realistic 1,000 and 6,000 μatm exposures, and a proof-of-principle 30,000 μatm exposure. Few differences were observed at 1,000 or 6,000 μatm; however, 30,000 μatm stimulated widespread up-regulation. Translocation of V-type ATPase after 1 h of exposure to 30,000 μatm was also assessed; however, no evidence of translocation was found. These results indicate that red drum can quickly compensate to environmentally relevant acid-base disturbances using baseline cellular machinery, yet are capable of plasticity in response to extreme acid-base challenges.

Continue reading ‘Carbon dioxide induced plasticity of branchial acid-base pathways in an estuarine teleost’

Acclimation of bloom-forming and perennial seaweeds to elevated pCO2 conserved across levels of environmental complexity

Macroalgae contribute approximately 15% of the primary productivity in coastal marine ecosystems, fix up to 27.4 Tg of carbon per year, and provide important structural components for life in coastal waters. Despite this ecological and commercial importance, direct measurements and comparisons of the short-term responses to elevated pCO2 in seaweeds with different life-history strategies are scarce. Here, we cultured several seaweed species (bloom-forming/non-bloom-forming/perennial/annual) in the laboratory, in tanks in an in-door mesocosm facility, and in coastal mesocosms under pCO2 levels ranging from 400 μatm to 2000 μatm. We find that, across all scales of the experimental set-up, ephemeral species of the genus Ulva increase their photosynthesis and growth rates in response to elevated pCO2 the most, whereas longer-lived perennial species show a smaller increase or a decrease. These differences in short-term growth- and photosynthesis rates are likely to give bloom-forming green seaweeds a competitive advantage in mixed communities, and our results thus suggest that coastal seaweed assemblages in eutrophic waters may undergo an initial shift toward communities dominated by bloom-forming, short-lived seaweeds.

Continue reading ‘Acclimation of bloom-forming and perennial seaweeds to elevated pCO2 conserved across levels of environmental complexity’

Moving ocean acidification research beyond a simple science: investigating ecological change and their stabilizers

The response of complex ecological communities to ocean acidification reflects interactions among species that propagate or dampen ecological change. Yet, most studies have been based on short-term experiments with limited numbers of interacting species. Both limitations tend to exaggerate measured effects and when combined with our predisposition for investigating change, we reduce insight into pathways of stability, acclimation and adaptation. Here, we review accepted and emerging insights into processes that drive ecological change (top-down and bottom-up) and the stabilizing processes by which ecological complexity may dampen change. With an emphasis on kelp forest examples, we show that boosted primary productivity from enriched CO2 creates competitive imbalances that drive habitat change, but we also recognise intensifying herbivory on these habitats dampens this change. Foraging herbivores thrive on CO2 enriched plants and over successive generations their populations expand. When we consider such population level responses, we open new questions regarding density-effects (e.g. competition, susceptibility to predation and disease), as well as the bottom-up benefits to predators. Nevertheless, research on predators has lagged behind because their wide-ranging behaviour typically imposes logistical difficulties for observational and experimental research. We know that ocean warming imposes elevated metabolic costs on their foraging whilst acidification hampers navigation of their larvae towards suitable habitat and impairs their hunting and avoidance of predators as adults. Connecting such top-down with bottom-up responses is fundamental for progress, and is also contingent on understanding the mechanisms that dampen change. These stabilizers have the potential to keep pace with abiotic change and thereby influence the drivers of acclimation and adaption. Certainly, we acknowledge that investigating change is often simpler and associated bold messages appeal to citation impact. Yet, if we are to anticipate the ability of complex ecological communities to persist in changing environments, then understanding the shifting balance between the propagation of resource enrichment and its consumption across trophic levels is central to this challenge.

Continue reading ‘Moving ocean acidification research beyond a simple science: investigating ecological change and their stabilizers’

Ocean acidification increases larval swimming speed and has limited effects on spawning and settlement of a robust fouling bryozoan, Bugula neritina

Few studies to date have investigated the effects of ocean acidification on non-reef forming marine invertebrates with non-feeding larvae. Here, we exposed adults of the bryozoan Bugula neritina and their larvae to lowered pH. We monitored spawning, larval swimming, settlement, and post-settlement individual sizes at two pHs (7.9 vs. 7.6) and settlement dynamics alone over a broader pH range (8.0 down to 6.5). Our results show that spawning was not affected by adult exposure (48 h at pH 7.6), larvae swam 32% faster and the newly-settled individuals grew significantly larger (5%) at pH 7.6 than in the control. Although larvae required more time to settle when pH was lowered, reduced pH was not lethal, even down to pH 6.5. Overall, this fouling species appeared to be robust to acidification, and yet, indirect effects such as prolonging the pelagic larval duration could increase predation risk, and might negatively impact population dynamics.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification increases larval swimming speed and has limited effects on spawning and settlement of a robust fouling bryozoan, Bugula neritina’

Species-specific responses to ocean acidification should account for local adaptation and adaptive plasticity

Global stressors, such as ocean acidification, constitute a rapidly emerging and significant problem for marine organisms, ecosystem functioning and services. The coastal ecosystems of the Humboldt Current System (HCS) off Chile harbour a broad physical–chemical latitudinal and temporal gradient with considerable patchiness in local oceanographic conditions. This heterogeneity may, in turn, modulate the specific tolerances of organisms to climate stress in species with populations distributed along this environmental gradient. Negative response ratios are observed in species models (mussels, gastropods and planktonic copepods) exposed to changes in the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) far from the average and extreme pCO2 levels experienced in their native habitats. This variability in response between populations reveals the potential role of local adaptation and/or adaptive phenotypic plasticity in increasing resilience of species to environmental change. The growing use of standard ocean acidification scenarios and treatment levels in experimental protocols brings with it a danger that inter-population differences are confounded by the varying environmental conditions naturally experienced by different populations. Here, we propose the use of a simple index taking into account the natural pCO2 variability, for a better interpretation of the potential consequences of ocean acidification on species inhabiting variable coastal ecosystems. Using scenarios that take into account the natural variability will allow  understanding of the limits to plasticity across organismal traits, populations and species.

Continue reading ‘Species-specific responses to ocean acidification should account for local adaptation and adaptive plasticity’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book