Posts Tagged 'algae'

Future CO2-induced ocean acidification enhances resilience of a green tide alga to low-salinity stress

To understand how Ulva species might respond to salinity stress during future ocean acidification we cultured a green tide alga Ulva linza at various salinities (control salinity, 30 PSU; medium salinity, 20 PSU; low salinity, 10 PSU) and CO2 concentrations (400 and 1000 ppmv) for over 30 days. The results showed that, under the low salinity conditions, the thalli could not complete its whole life cycle. The specific growth rate (SGR) of juvenile thalli decreased significantly with reduced salinity but increased with a rise in CO2. Compared to the control, medium salinity also decreased the SGR of adult thalli at low CO2 but did not affect it at high CO2. Similar patterns were also found in relative electron transport rate (rETR), non-photochemical quenching, saturating irradiance, and Chl b content. Although medium salinity reduced net photosynthetic rate and maximum rETR at each CO2 level, these negative effects were significantly alleviated at high CO2 levels. In addition, nitrate reductase activity was reduced by medium salinity but enhanced by high CO2. These findings indicate that future ocean acidification would enhance U. linza’s tolerance to low salinity stress and may thus facilitate the occurrence of green tides dominated by U. linza.

Continue reading ‘Future CO2-induced ocean acidification enhances resilience of a green tide alga to low-salinity stress’

Future ocean climate homogenizes communities across habitats through diversity loss and rise of generalist species

Predictions of the effects of global change on ecological communities are largely based on single habitats. Yet in nature, habitats are interconnected through the exchange of energy and organisms, and the responses of local communities may not extend to emerging community networks (i.e. metacommunities). Using large mesocosms and meiofauna communities as a model system, we investigated the interactive effects of ocean warming and acidification on the structure of marine metacommunities from three shallow‐water habitats: sandy soft‐bottoms, marine vegetation and rocky reef substrates. Primary producers and detritus – key food sources for meiofauna – increased in biomass under the combined effect of temperature and acidification. The enhanced bottom‐up forcing boosted nematode densities but impoverished the functional and trophic diversity of nematode metacommunities. The combined climate stressors further homogenized meiofauna communities across habitats. Under present‐day conditions metacommunities were structured by habitat type, but under future conditions they showed an unstructured random pattern with fast‐growing generalist species dominating the communities of all habitats. Homogenization was likely driven by local species extinctions, reducing interspecific competition that otherwise could have prevented single species from dominating multiple niches. Our findings reveal that climate change may simplify metacommunity structure and prompt biodiversity loss, which may affect the biological organization and resilience of marine communities.

Continue reading ‘Future ocean climate homogenizes communities across habitats through diversity loss and rise of generalist species’

A future 1.2 °C increase in ocean temperature alters the quality of mangrove habitats for marine plants and animals

• Mangrove habitats are more resilient to climate change than other habitats.

• Climate change might have positive effects on mangrove-root species communities.

• Using mesocosms we show that an increase of 1.2 °C leads to community homogenisation.

• Warming also led to diversity loss and flattening of mangrove root epibiont communities.

• Juvenile fish altered their use of mangrove habitats under warming and acidification.

Global climate stressors, like ocean warming and acidification, contribute to the erosion of structural complexity in marine foundation habitats by promoting the growth of low-relief turf, increasing grazing pressure on structurally complex marine vegetation, and by directly affecting the growth and survival of foundation species. Because mangrove roots are woody and their epibionts are used to ever-changing conditions in highly variable environments, mangrove habitats may be more resilient to global change stressors than other marine foundation species. Using a large-scale mesocosm experiment, we examined how ocean warming and acidification, under a reduced carbon emission scenario, affect the composition and structural complexity of mangrove epibiont communities and the use of mangrove habitat by juvenile fishes. We demonstrate that even a modest increase in seawater temperature of 1.2 °C leads to the homogenisation and flattening of mangrove root epibiont communities. Warming led to a 24% increase in the overall cover of algal epibionts on roots but the diversity of the epibiont species decreased by 33%. Epibiont structural complexity decreased owing to the shorter stature of weedy algal turfs which prospered under elevated temperature. Juvenile fishes showed alterations in mangrove habitat use with ocean warming and acidification, but these were independent of changes to the root epibiont community. We reveal that the quality of apparently resilient mangrove habitats and their perceived value as habitat for associated fauna are still vulnerable under a globally reduced carbon emission scenario.

Continue reading ‘A future 1.2 °C increase in ocean temperature alters the quality of mangrove habitats for marine plants and animals’

Continuous photoperiod of the Arctic summer stimulates the photosynthetic response of some marine macrophytes


• Long photoperiods increase the photosynthetic activity of certain subarctic macrophytes.

• Increased CO2 had no effect on tested macrophytes.

• Highest increases of photosynthetic activity of A. nodosum and Z. marina at long day lengths; smaller increase for F. vesiculosus.

• Subarctic macrophytes, expanding as sea ice retreats, will benefit from long summer days.


Subarctic macrophytes are predicted to expand in the Arctic as a result of on-going global climate change. This will expose them to 24 h of light during the Arctic summer while pCO2 levels are predicted to rise globally. Here, we tested the photosynthetic activity of two brown macroalgae (Ascophyllum nodosum, Fucus vesiculosus) and one seagrass (Zostera marina) from subarctic Greenland, measuring their relative maximum electron transport rate (rETRmax), photosynthetic efficiency (α) and saturating irradiance (Ik) after 3 days of incubation at different photoperiods (12:12 h, 15:09 h, 18:06 h, 21:03 h and 24:00 h, light:dark) with ambient values of pCO2 (200 ppm, characteristic of current subarctic surface waters) and increased pCO2 (400 and 1000 ppm). The photosynthetic parameters rETRmax and Ik increased significantly with longer photoperiods and increased, however insignificantly, with increased pCO2. Responses differed between species. A. nodosum and Z. marina showed the highest increase of rETRmax and Ik from 12 h to 24 h while the increase of F. vesiculosus was smaller. Our results suggest that as subarctic macrophytes expand in the Arctic in response to retracting sea ice, the long summer days will stimulate the productivity of the species tested here, while the effect of high-CO2 environment needs further research.

Continue reading ‘Continuous photoperiod of the Arctic summer stimulates the photosynthetic response of some marine macrophytes’

Effects of reduced pH on health biomarkers of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa

Ocean acidification is a growing problem that may affect many marine organisms in the future. Within 100 years the pH of the ocean is predicted to decrease to 7.8, from the current ocean pH of around 8.1. Using phenolic acid levels as a stress indicator as well as respiration and chlorophyll content as a measure of health, the effect of lowering pH was tested on the seagrass, Cymodocea nodosa, in a controlled environment. Plant samples, water, and soil were taken from the Bay of Cádiz, Spain, and placed in aquaria in a temperature-controlled room. One control group was left untreated with a pH of approximately 8.1, while experimental groups maintained pH levels of 7.8 and 7.5. Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), concentration of the phenol rosmarinic acid was quantified in the plants. Average concentration for the control group was 1.7 μg g-1, while it was 2.9 μg g-1 for pH group 7.8, and 10.1g g-1 for pH group 7.5. To evaluate the overall health of C. nodosa within the three groups, chlorophyll concentration and photosynthesis/respiration rates were determined. A one-tailed ANOVA test was conducted using the chlorophyll concentrations of the three groups. With an F-value of 1.360 and a p-value of 0.287, the differences between the groups were not statistically significant. Although the raw data shows a slight decrease in chlorophyll content between the control group and the pH group 7.5, these discrepancies might have been larger or smaller due to sampling or experimental error. Additionally, the average values with their respective standard deviations were calculated for the respiration rates and oxygen production of each group. A one-tailed ANOVA was also used to determine the relationship between rosmarinic acid content and pH levels between the groups, with an F-value of 5.1423 and a p-value of 0.050.

Continue reading ‘Effects of reduced pH on health biomarkers of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa’

Dynamics of benthic metabolism, O2, and pCO2 in a temperate seagrass meadow

Seagrass meadows play an important role in “blue carbon” sequestration and storage, but their dynamic metabolism is not fully understood. In a dense Zostera marina meadow, we measured benthic O2 fluxes by aquatic eddy covariance, water column concentrations of O2, and partial pressures of CO2 (pCO2) over 21 full days during peak growing season in April and June. Seagrass metabolism, derived from the O2 flux, varied markedly between the 2 months as biomass accumulated and water temperature increased from 16°C to 28°C, triggering a twofold increase in respiration and a trophic shift of the seagrass meadow from being a carbon sink to a carbon source. Seagrass metabolism was the major driver of diurnal fluctuations in water column O2 concentration and pCO2, ranging from 173 to 377 μmol L−1 and 193 to 859 ppmv, respectively. This 4.5‐fold variation in pCO2 was observed despite buffering by the carbonate system. Hysteresis in diurnal water column pCO2 vs. O2 concentration was attributed to storage of O2 and CO2 in seagrass tissue, air–water exchange of O2 and CO2, and CO2 storage in surface sediment. There was a ~ 1:1 mol‐to‐mol stoichiometric relationship between diurnal fluctuations in concentrations of O2 and dissolved inorganic carbon. Our measurements showed no stimulation of photosynthesis at high CO2 and low O2 concentrations, even though CO2 reached levels used in IPCC ocean acidification scenarios. This field study does not support the notion that seagrass meadows may be “winners” in future oceans with elevated CO2 concentrations and more frequent temperature extremes.

Continue reading ‘Dynamics of benthic metabolism, O2, and pCO2 in a temperate seagrass meadow’

Kelp beds and their local effects on seawater chemistry, productivity, and microbial communities

Kelp forests are known as key habitats for species diversity and macroalgal productivity; however, we know little about how these biogenic habitats interact with seawater chemistry and phototroph productivity in the water column. We examined kelp forest functions at three locales along the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state by quantifying carbonate chemistry, nutrient concentrations, phytoplankton productivity, and seawater microbial communities inside and outside of kelp beds dominated by the canopy kelp species Nereocystis luetkeana and Macrocystis pyrifera. Kelp beds locally increased the pH, oxygen, and aragonite saturation state of the seawater, but lowered seawater inorganic carbon content and total alkalinity. While kelp beds depleted nitrate and phosphorus concentrations, ammonium and DOC concentrations were enhanced. Kelp beds also decreased chlorophyll concentrations and carbon fixed by phytoplankton, although kelp carbon fixation more than compensated for any difference in phytoplankton production. Kelp beds also entrained distinct microbial communities, with higher taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity compared to seawater outside of the kelp bed. Kelp forests thus had significant effects on seawater chemistry, productivity and the microbial assemblages in their proximity. Thereby, the diversity of pathways for carbon and nitrogen cycling was also enhanced. Overall, these observations suggest that the contribution of kelp forests to nearshore carbon and nitrogen cycling is greater than previously documented.

Continue reading ‘Kelp beds and their local effects on seawater chemistry, productivity, and microbial communities’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book