Posts Tagged 'algae'

Primary producers may ameliorate impacts of daytime CO2 addition in a coastal marine ecosystem

Predicting the impacts of ocean acidification in coastal habitats is complicated by bio-physical feedbacks between organisms and carbonate chemistry. Daily changes in pH and other carbonate parameters in coastal ecosystems, associated with processes such as photosynthesis and respiration, often greatly exceed global mean predicted changes over the next century. We assessed the strength of these feedbacks under projected elevated CO2 levels by conducting a field experiment in 10 macrophyte-dominated tide pools on the coast of California, USA. We evaluated changes in carbonate parameters over time and found that under ambient conditions, daytime changes in pH, pCO2, net ecosystem calcification (NEC), and O2 concentrations were strongly related to rates of net community production (NCP). CO2 was added to pools during daytime low tides, which should have reduced pH and enhanced pCO2. However, photosynthesis rapidly reduced pCO2 and increased pH, so effects of CO2 addition were not apparent unless we accounted for seaweed and surfgrass abundances. In the absence of macrophytes, CO2 addition caused pH to decline by ∼0.6 units and pCO2 to increase by ∼487 µatm over 6 hr during the daytime low tide. As macrophyte abundances increased, the impacts of CO2 addition declined because more CO2 was absorbed due to photosynthesis. Effects of CO2addition were, therefore, modified by feedbacks between NCP, pH, pCO2, and NEC. Our results underscore the potential importance of coastal macrophytes in ameliorating impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Primary producers may ameliorate impacts of daytime CO2 addition in a coastal marine ecosystem’

Ocean warming has greater and more consistent negative effects than ocean acidification on the growth and health of subtropical macroalgae

Macroalgae are the major habitat-forming organisms in many coastal temperate and subtropical marine systems. Although climate change has been identified as a major threat to the persistence of macroalgal beds, the combined effects of ocean warming and ocean acidification on algal performance are poorly understood. Here we investigate the effects of increased temperature and acidification on the growth, calcification and nutritional content of 6 common subtropical macroalgae; Sargassum linearifolium, Ulva sp., Amphiroa anceps, Corallina officinalis, Delisea pulchra and Laurencia decussata. Algae were reared in a factorial cross of 3 temperatures (23°C [ambient], 26°C and 28°C) and 3 pH levels (8.1 [ambient], 7.8 and 7.6) for 2 wk. The highest (28°C) temperature decreased the growth of all 6 macroalgal species, irrespective of the pH levels. In contrast, the effect of decreased pH on growth was variable. The growth of Ulva sp. and C. officinalis increased, L. decussata decreased, while the remaining 3 species were unaffected. Interestingly, the differential responses of macroalgae to ocean acidification were unrelated to whether or not a species was a calcifying alga, or their carbon-uptake mechanism—2 processes that are predicted to be sensitive to decreased pH. The growth of the calcifying algae (C. officinalis and A. anceps) was not affected by reduced pH but calcification of these 2 algae was reduced when exposed to a combination of reduced pH and elevated temperature. The 3 species capable of uptake of bicarbonate, S. linearifolium, L. decussata and Ulva sp., displayed positive, negative and neutral changes in growth, respectively, in response to reduced pH. The C:N ratio for 5 of the 6 species was unaffected by either pH or temperature. The consistent and predictable negative effects of temperature on the growth and calcification of subtropical macroalgae suggests that this stressor poses a greater threat to the persistence of subtropical macroalgal populations than ocean acidification under ongoing and future climate change.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming has greater and more consistent negative effects than ocean acidification on the growth and health of subtropical macroalgae’

Acidification increases abundances of Vibrionales and Planctomycetia associated to a seaweed-grazer system: potential consequences for disease and prey digestion efficiency

Ocean acidification significantly affects marine organisms in several ways, with complex interactions. Seaweeds might benefit from rising CO2 through increased photosynthesis and carbon acquisition, with subsequent higher growth rates. However, changes in seaweed chemistry due to increased CO2 may change the nutritional quality of tissue for grazers. In addition, organisms live in close association with a diverse microbiota, which can also be influenced by environmental changes, with feedback effects. As gut microbiomes are often linked to diet, changes in seaweed characteristics and associated microbiome can affect the gut microbiome of the grazer, with possible fitness consequences. In this study, we experimentally investigated the effects of acidification on the microbiome of the invasive brown seaweed Sargassum muticum and a native isopod consumer Synisoma nadejda. Both were exposed to ambient CO2 conditions (380 ppm, pH 8.16) and an acidification treatment (1,000 ppm, pH 7.86) for three weeks. Microbiome diversity and composition were determined using high-throughput sequencing of the variable regions V5-7 of 16S rRNA. We anticipated that as a result of acidification, the seaweed-associated bacterial community would change, leading to further changes in the gut microbiome of grazers. However, no significant effects of elevated CO2 on the overall bacterial community structure and composition were revealed in the seaweed. In contrast, significant changes were observed in the bacterial community of the grazer gut. Although the bacterial community of S. muticum as whole did not change, Oceanospirillales and Vibrionales (mainly Pseudoalteromonas) significantly increased their abundance in acidified conditions. The former, which uses organic matter compounds as its main source, may have opportunistically taken advantage of the possible increase of the C/N ratio in the seaweed under acidified conditions. Pseudoalteromonas, commonly associated to diseased seaweeds, suggesting that acidification may facilitate opportunistic/pathogenic bacteria. In the gut of S. nadejda, the bacterial genus Planctomycetia increased abundance under elevated CO2. This shift might be associated to changes in food (S. muticum) quality under acidification. Planctomycetia are slow-acting decomposers of algal polymers that could be providing the isopod with an elevated algal digestion and availability of inorganic compounds to compensate the shifted C/N ratio under acidification in their food.

In conclusion, our results indicate that even after only three weeks of acidified conditions, bacterial communities associated to ungrazed seaweed and to an isopod grazer show specific, differential shifts in associated bacterial community. These have potential consequences for seaweed health (as shown in corals) and isopod food digestion. The observed changes in the gut microbiome of the grazer seem to reflect changes in the seaweed chemistry rather than its microbial composition.

Continue reading ‘Acidification increases abundances of Vibrionales and Planctomycetia associated to a seaweed-grazer system: potential consequences for disease and prey digestion efficiency’

The role of local environmental changes on maerl and its associated non-calcareous epiphytic flora in the Bay of Brest

Large stands of free living (calcareous) coralline algae — called maerl beds — play a major role as ecosystem engineers in coastal areas throughout the world. They are also subject to strong anthropogenic pressures at global and local scales, which threaten their survival. However, the macroalgal epiphytes growing on maerl may benefit from these pressures, developing to the detriment of maerl algae. Here, we sought to gain insight into how maerl beds and their epiphytic algae are disturbed by variations in the local environment, and how these variations affect their capacity to respond to global change. In 2015, we monitored three maerl beds located in the Bay of Brest (Brittany, France). Sites with contrasting conditions were selected, with one station lying in a zone close to the harbor (northern basin S1) and two stations (S2 and S3) located in areas away from the main urban effluents but subject to other sources of local change: higher currents at S3 (PREVIMER Ocean Forecast) and higher sedimentation rates at S2 (Erhold et al., 2015). We observed significant temporal variations of physico-chemical parameters, on an annual but also on a daily basis. Results showed that S2 differentiated itself from the other stations, this station experienced higher fluctuations of salinity, nutrient concentrations and carbonate system parameters and hosted the lowest (living) maerl biomass (4.38 ± 1.54 kg DW m−2). S3 observed the highest living maerl biomass (14.56 ± 1.61 kg DW m−2) and the lowest non-calcareous epiphytic macroalgal abundance (0.1–7.9 g DW m−2). S1 displayed the highest heterogeneity in terms of living maerl biomass (it varied from 0.8 to 8.6 kg DW m−2), and the highest Chl a content. However, we did not record differences in terms of physico-chemical parameters between S1 and S3. No positive relationship was observed between nutrient enrichment and macroalgal epiphyte abundance, but epiphyte abundance was higher at stations with lower maerl biomass (S1 and S2) (mean value ranged from 4.6 to 49.0 g DW m−2 at S1 and from 7.4 to 23.7 g DW m−2 at S2). Our results highlight the importance of local changes on the development, survival and capacity to adapt to global change of maerl beds.

Continue reading ‘The role of local environmental changes on maerl and its associated non-calcareous epiphytic flora in the Bay of Brest’

The duality of ocean acidification as a resource and a stressor

Ecologically dominant species often define ecosystem states, but as human disturbances intensify, their subordinate counterparts increasingly displace them. We consider the duality of disturbance by examining how environmental drivers can simultaneously act as a stressor to dominant species and as a resource to subordinates. Using a model ecosystem, we demonstrate that CO2‐driven interactions between species can account for such reversals in dominance; i.e., the displacement of dominants (kelp forests) by subordinates (turf algae). We established that CO2 enrichment had a direct positive effect on productivity of turfs, but a negligible effect on kelp. CO2 enrichment further suppressed the abundance and feeding rate of the primary grazer of turfs (sea urchins), but had an opposite effect on the minor grazer (gastropods). Thus, boosted production of subordinate producers, exacerbated by a net reduction in its consumption by primary grazers, accounts for community change (i.e., turf displacing kelp). Ecosystem collapse, therefore, is more likely when resource enrichment alters competitive dominance of producers, and consumers fail to compensate. By recognizing such duality in the responses of interacting species to disturbance, which may stabilize or exacerbate change, we can begin to understand how intensifying human disturbances determine whether or not ecosystems undergo phase shifts.

Continue reading ‘The duality of ocean acidification as a resource and a stressor’

Short-term interactive effects of increased temperatures and acidification on the calcifying macroalgae Lithothamnion crispatum and Sonderophycus capensis


•Temperature increase and acidification induces stress in calcifying macroalgae.
•High temperature stress is softened under nowadays pH levels.
Lithothamnion crispatum and Sonderphycus capensis may cope in future climate change.


Combined effect of acidification and sea warming derived from future conditions of Climate Change have been little investigated in marine photoautotrophs, especially on sensitive organisms such as calcifying macroalgae. The aim of this investigation was to evaluate the interactive effects of acidification and increased temperatures on the two Brazilian calcifying macroalgae Lithothamnion crispatum and Sonderophycus capensis. Both species were cultured for 48 h under: (1) current pH (7.8 ± 0.2) and temperature (18 ± 2 °C) during winter; (2) future pH (7.4 ± 0.2) and temperature (30 ± 2 °C) during summer; (3) current temperature and future pH; and (4) future temperature and current pH. We evaluated photosynthetic performance (measured ΔF/F´m), growth rates (weight), relative carbonate content, and total phenolic compounds. Our results showed similar negative effects under decreased pH and increased temperatures in both species, although carbonate content S. capensis was less affected than in L. crispatum. Total phenolic compounds measured in S. capensis showed the highest levels at potential future pH and temperature conditions. Given that stress conditions associated with decreased pH and increased temperatures are important inductors of an oxidative response, it is likely that phenolic compounds are synthetized to fulfil an antioxidant purpose. Even though physiological performance was affected in both calcifying macroalgae under the most likely negative future pH and temperature conditions, their biological viability indicates they may be able to thrive under coming Climate Change scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Short-term interactive effects of increased temperatures and acidification on the calcifying macroalgae Lithothamnion crispatum and Sonderophycus capensis’

High CO2 decreases the long‐term resilience of the free‐living coralline algae Phymatolithon lusitanicum

Mäerl/rhodolith beds are protected habitats that may be affected by ocean acidification (OA), but it is still unclear how the availability of CO2 will affect the metabolism of these organisms. Some of the inconsistencies found among OA experimental studies may be related to experimental exposure time and synergetic effects with other stressors. Here, we investigated the long‐term (up to 20 months) effects of OA on the production and calcification of the most common mäerl species of southern Portugal, Phymatolithon lusitanicum. Both the photosynthetic and calcification rates increased with CO2 after the first 11 months of the experiment, whereas respiration slightly decreased with CO2. After 20 months, the pattern was reversed. Acidified algae showed lower photosynthetic and calcification rates, as well as lower accumulated growth than control algae, suggesting that a metabolic threshold was exceeded. Our results indicate that long‐term exposure to high CO2 will decrease the resilience of Phymatolithon lusitanicum. Our results also show that shallow communities of these rhodoliths may be particularly at risk, while deeper rhodolith beds may become ocean acidification refuges for this biological community.

Continue reading ‘High CO2 decreases the long‐term resilience of the free‐living coralline algae Phymatolithon lusitanicum’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book