Posts Tagged 'algae'

Using stable isotope analysis to determine the effects of ocean acidification and warming on trophic interactions in a maerl bed community

Ocean acidification and warming are likely to affect the structure and functioning of marine benthic communities. This study experimentally examined the effects of ocean acidification and warming on trophic interactions within a maerl bed community by using stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis. Two three‐month experiments were conducted in winter and summer seasons with four different combinations of pCO2 (ambient and elevated pCO2) and temperature (ambient and +3°C). Experimental assemblages were created in tanks held in the laboratory and were composed of calcareous (Lithothamnion corallioides) and fleshy algae (Rhodymenia ardissonei, Solieria chordalis, and Ulva sp.), gastropods (Gibbula magus and Jujubinus exasperatus), and sea urchins (Psammechinus miliaris). Our results showed higher seaweed availability for grazers in summer than winter. Therefore, grazers were able to adapt their diet seasonally. Increased pCO2 and temperature did not modify the trophic structure in winter, while shifts in the contribution of seaweed were found in summer. Combined acidification and warming increased the contribution of biofilm in gastropods diet in summer conditions. Psammechinus miliaris mostly consumed L. corallioides under ambient conditions, while the alga S. chordalis became the dominant food source under high pCO2 in summer. Predicted changes in pCO2 and temperature had complex effects on assemblage trophic structure. Direct effects of acidification and warming on seaweed metabolism may modify their abundance and biomass, affecting their availability for grazers. Climate change may also modify seaweeds’ nutritive value and their palatability for grazers. The grazers we investigated were able to change their diet in response to changes in algal assemblages, an advantage given that warming and acidification alter the composition of algal communities.

Continue reading ‘Using stable isotope analysis to determine the effects of ocean acidification and warming on trophic interactions in a maerl bed community’

Influence of iron and carbon on the occurrence of Ulva prolifera (Ulvophyceae) in the Yellow Sea


  • Continuous, massive green tides have occurred in the Yellow Sea over the past decade (2007–2018).
  • This study integrates remote sensing, field observation, laboratory measurements and indoor cultivation.
  • Ulva prolifera blooming is influenced by higher concentrations of Fe(II) and HCO3-, and a lower pH.


Over the past decade, massive outbreaks of Ulva prolifera have occurred in the Yellow Sea, China, and caused negative effects to the coastal environments. In response, many scientific investigations have been conducted to ascertain the origins of and reasons for the algal bloom that has resulted in continuous green tides. In this work, we explored the influences of iron and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) on the occurrence of green algal blooms. The moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) data showed the blooming areas and movement of U. prolifera. Field observation showed that higher Fe(II) concentrations (average 0.145 mg L−1) can be correlated with large Ulva prolifera blooms. Furthermore, lower pH might enhance the accumulation of dissolved carbon into the green algae; a premise that was supported by higher concentrations of CO2(0.037 mmol L−1), HCO3−(2.58 mmol L−1) and the lowest pH value (7.69) being found together at site H11. The indoor iron- and bicarbonate-enrichment experiments further confirmed that higher concentrations of Fe(II) and HCO3− and a lower pH can increase the growth rate of U. prolifera. This study indicates that seawater chemical factors contribute to the long term, ongoing green tides in the Yellow Sea and provides new thoughts for the causes of U. prolifera blooms.

Continue reading ‘Influence of iron and carbon on the occurrence of Ulva prolifera (Ulvophyceae) in the Yellow Sea’

Hypoxia and acidification, individually and in combination, disrupt herbivory and reduce survivorship of the gastropod, Lacuna vincta

Acidification and deoxygenation are two consequences of climate change that also co-occur in eutrophied coastal zones and can have deleterious effects on marine life. While the effects of hypoxia on marine herbivores have been well-studied, how ocean acidification combined with hypoxia affects herbivory is poorly understood. This study examined how herbivory and survival by the gastropod Lacuna vincta grazing on the macroalgae Ulva rigida was influenced by hypoxia and ocean acidification, alone and in combination, with and without food limitation. Experiments exposed L. vincta to a range of environmentally realistic dissolved oxygen (0.7 – 8 mg L–1) and pH (7.3 – 8.0 total scale) conditions for 3 – 72 h, with and without a starvation period and quantified herbivory and survival. While acidified conditions (pH < 7.4) reduced herbivory when combined with food limitation, low oxygen conditions (< 4 mg L–1) reduced herbivory and survival regardless of food supply. When L. vincta were starved and grazed in acidified conditions herbivory was additively reduced, whereas starvation and hypoxia synergistically reduced grazing rates. Overall, low oxygen had a more inhibitory effect on herbivory than low pH. Shorter exposure times (9, 6, and 3 h) were required to reduce grazing at lower DO levels (∼2.4, ∼1.6, and ∼0.7 mg L–1, respectively). Herbivory ceased entirely following a three-hour exposure to DO of 0.7 mg L–1 suggesting that episodes of diurnal hypoxia disrupt grazing by these gastropods. The suppression of herbivory in response to acidified and hypoxic conditions could create a positive feedback loop that promotes ‘green tides’ whereby reduced grazing facilitates the overgrowth of macroalgae that cause nocturnal acidification and hypoxia, further disrupting herbivory and promoting the growth of macroalgae. Such feedback loops could have broad implications for estuarine ecosystems where L. vincta is a dominant macroalgal grazer and will intensify as climate change accelerates.

Continue reading ‘Hypoxia and acidification, individually and in combination, disrupt herbivory and reduce survivorship of the gastropod, Lacuna vincta’

Keystone predators govern the pathway and pace of climate impacts in a subarctic marine ecosystem

Predator loss and climate change are hallmarks of the Anthropocene yet their interactive effects are largely unknown. Here, we show that massive calcareous reefs, built slowly by the alga Clathromorphum nereostratum over centuries to millennia, are now declining because of the emerging interplay between these two processes. Such reefs, the structural base of Aleutian kelp forests, are rapidly eroding because of overgrazing by herbivores. Historical reconstructions and experiments reveal that overgrazing was initiated by the loss of sea otters, Enhydra lutris (which gave rise to herbivores capable of causing bioerosion), and then accelerated with ocean warming and acidification (which increased per capita lethal grazing by 34 to 60% compared with preindustrial times). Thus, keystone predators can mediate the ways in which climate effects emerge in nature and the pace with which they alter ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Keystone predators govern the pathway and pace of climate impacts in a subarctic marine ecosystem’

Ocean acidification effects on calcification and dissolution in tropical reef macroalgae

Net calcification rates for coral reef and other calcifiers have been shown to decline as ocean acidification (OA) occurs. However, the role of calcium carbonate dissolution in lowering net calcification rates is unclear. The objective of this study was to distinguish OA effects on calcification and dissolution rates in dominant calcifying macroalgae of the Florida Reef Tract, including two rhodophytes (Neogoniolithon strictum, Jania adhaerens) and two chlorophytes (Halimeda scabra, Udotea luna). Two experiments were conducted: (1) to assess the difference in gross (45Ca uptake) versus net (total alkalinity anomaly) calcification rates in the light/dark and (2) to determine dark dissolution (45CaCO3), using pH levels predicted for the year 2100 and ambient pH. At low pH in the light, all species maintained gross calcification rates and most sustained net calcification rates relative to controls. Net calcification rates in the dark were ~84% lower than in the light. In contrast to the light, all species had lower net calcification rates in the dark at low pH with chlorophytes exhibiting net dissolution. These data are supported by the relationship (R2 = 0.82) between increasing total alkalinity and loss of 45Ca from pre-labelled 45CaCO3 thalli at low pH in the dark. Dark dissolution of 45CaCO3-labelled thalli was ~18% higher in chlorophytes than rhodophytes at ambient pH, and ~ twofold higher at low pH. Only Udotea, which exhibited dissolution in the light, also had lower daily calcification rates integrated over 24 h. Thus, if tropical macroalgae can maintain high calcification rates in the light, lower net calcification rates in the dark from dissolution may not compromise daily calcification rates. However, if organismal dissolution in the dark is additive to sedimentary carbonate losses, reef dissolution may be amplified under OA and contribute to erosion of the Florida Reef Tract and other reefs that exhibit net dissolution.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification effects on calcification and dissolution in tropical reef macroalgae’

Inorganic carbon uptake strategies in coralline algae: plasticity across evolutionary lineages under ocean acidification and warming


• Ambient diffusive CO2 use of reef-building crustose coralline algae ranges from 35 to 65%.

• Algae largely maintain or increase bicarbonate use under ocean acidification and warming.

• Maintained or increased bicarbonate use is associated with sustained metabolic performance.

• Lineage predicts inorganic carbon uptake strategy.

• Proposed initial framework for inorganic carbon uptake strategies in crustose coralline algae.


Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) assimilation is essential to the reef-building capacity of crustose coralline algae (CCA). Little is known, however, about the DIC uptake strategies and their potential plasticity under ongoing ocean acidification (OA) and warming. The persistence of CCA lineages throughout historical oscillations of pCO2 and temperature suggests that evolutionary history may play a role in selecting for adaptive traits. We evaluated the effects of pCO2 and temperature on the plasticity of DIC uptake strategies and associated energetic consequences in reef-building CCA from different evolutionary lineages. We simulated past, present, moderate (IPCC RCP 6.0) and high pCO2 (RCP 8.5) and present and high (RCP 8.5) temperature conditions and quantified stable carbon isotope fractionation (13ε), organic carbon content, growth and photochemical efficiency. All investigated CCA species possess CO2-concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) and assimilate CO2 via diffusion to varying degrees. Under OA and warming, CCA either increased or maintained CCM capacity, which was associated with overall neutral effects on metabolic performance. More basal taxa, Sporolithales and Hapalidiales, had greater capacity for diffusive CO2 use than Corallinales. We suggest that CCMs are an adaptation that supports a robust carbon physiology and are likely responsible for the endurance of CCA in historically changing oceans.

Continue reading ‘Inorganic carbon uptake strategies in coralline algae: plasticity across evolutionary lineages under ocean acidification and warming’

Inorganic carbon utilization of tropical calcifying macroalgae and the impacts of intensive mariculture-derived coastal acidification on the physiological performance of the rhodolith Sporolithon sp.


• Intensive mariculture activities contribute to coastal acidification.

• Inorganic carbon use of calcifying macroalgae is diverse and species-specific.

• Long term exposure to extreme low-pH lowers growth and calcification of Sporolithon sp.


Fish farming in coastal areas has become an important source of food to support the world’s increasing population. However, intensive and unregulated mariculture activities have contributed to changing seawater carbonate chemistry through the production of high levels of respiratory CO2. This additional CO2, i.e. in addition to atmospheric inputs, intensifies the effects of global ocean acidification resulting in localized extreme low pH levels. Marine calcifying macroalgae are susceptible to such changes due to their CaCO3 skeleton. Their physiological response to CO2-driven acidification is dependent on their carbon physiology. In this study, we used the pH drift experiment to determine the capability of 9 calcifying macroalgae to use one or more inorganic carbon (Ci) species. From the 9 species, we selected the rhodolith Sporolithon sp. as a model organism to investigate the long-term effects of extreme low pH on the physiology and biochemistry of calcifying macroalgae. Samples were incubated under two pH treatments (pH 7.9 = ambient and pH 7.5 = extreme acidification) in a temperature-controlled (26 ± 0.02 °C) room provided with saturating light intensity (98.3 ± 2.50 μmol photons m-2 s-1). After the experimental treatment period (40 d), growth rate, calcification rate, nutrient uptake rate, organic content, skeletal CO3-2, pigments, and tissue C, N and P of Sporolithon samples were compared. The pH drift experiment revealed species-specific Ci use mechanisms, even between congenerics, among tropical calcifying macroalgae. Furthermore, long-term extreme low pH significantly reduced the growth rate, calcification rate and skeletal CO3-2 content by 79%, 66% and 18%, respectively. On the other hand, nutrient uptake rates, organic matter, pigments and tissue C, N and P were not affected by the low pH treatments. Our results suggest that the rhodolith Sporolithon sp. is susceptible to the negative effects of extreme low pH resulting from intensive mariculture-driven coastal acidification.

Continue reading ‘Inorganic carbon utilization of tropical calcifying macroalgae and the impacts of intensive mariculture-derived coastal acidification on the physiological performance of the rhodolith Sporolithon sp.’

Warming, but not acidification, restructures epibacterial communities of the Baltic macroalga Fucus vesiculosus with seasonal variability

Due to ocean acidification and global warming, surface seawater of the western Baltic Sea is expected to reach an average of ∼1100 μatm pCO2 and an increase of ∼5°C by the year 2100. In four consecutive experiments (spanning 10–11 weeks each) in all seasons within 1 year, the abiotic factors temperature (+5°C above in situ) and pCO2 (adjusted to ∼1100 μatm) were tested for their single and combined effects on epibacterial communities of the brown macroalga Fucus vesiculosus and on bacteria present in the surrounding seawater. The experiments were set up in three biological replicates using the Kiel Outdoor Benthocosm facility (Kiel, Germany). Phylogenetic analyses of the respective microbiota were performed by bacterial 16S (V1-V2) rDNA Illumina MiSeq amplicon sequencing after 0, 4, 8, and 10/11 weeks per season. The results demonstrate (I) that the bacterial community composition varied in time and (II) that relationships between operational taxonomic units (OTUs) within an OTU association network were mainly governed by the habitat. (III) Neither single pCO2 nor pCO2:Temperature interaction effects were statistically significant. However, significant impact of ocean warming was detected varying among seasons. (IV) An indicator OTU (iOTU) analysis identified several iOTUs that were strongly influenced by temperature in spring, summer, and winter. In the warming treatments of these three seasons, we observed decreasing numbers of bacteria that are commonly associated with a healthy marine microbial community and—particularly during spring and summer—an increase in potentially pathogenic and bacteria related to intensified microfouling. This might lead to severe consequences for the F. vesiculosus holobiont finally affecting the marine ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘Warming, but not acidification, restructures epibacterial communities of the Baltic macroalga Fucus vesiculosus with seasonal variability’

Epiphytes provide micro-scale refuge from ocean acidification


• OA induced bleaching and reduced metabolism in non-epiphytized coralline.

• Epiphytized corallines were less susceptible to the detrimental effects of OA.

• Epiphytized corallines had thicker diffusive boundary layer than non-epiphytized.

• Non-calcifying epiphytes provide small scale refuge from OA.

• Epiphytic refugia may protect corallines under future OA conditions.


Coralline algae, a major calcifying component of coastal shallow water communities, have been shown to be one of the more vulnerable taxonomic groups to ocean acidification (OA). Under OA, the interaction between corallines and epiphytes was previously described as both positive and negative. We hypothesized that the photosynthetic activity and the complex structure of non-calcifying epiphytic algae that grow on corallines ameliorate the chemical microenvironmental conditions around them, providing protection from OA. Using mesocosm and microsensor experiments, we showed that the widespread coralline Ellisolandia elongata is less susceptible to the detrimental effects of OA when covered with non-calcifying epiphytic algae, and its diffusive boundary layer is thicker than when not covered by epiphytes. By modifying the microenvironmental carbonate chemistry, epiphytes, facilitated by OA, create micro-scale shield (and refuge) with more basic conditions that may allow the persistence of corallines associated with them during acidified conditions. Such ecological refugia could also assist corallines under near-future anthropogenic OA conditions.

Continue reading ‘Epiphytes provide micro-scale refuge from ocean acidification’

Fragmented kelp forest canopies retain their ability to alter local seawater chemistry

Kelp forests support some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems on Earth, and their ability to uptake dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) allows them to modify local seawater chemistry, creating gradients in carbon, pH, and oxygen in their vicinity. By taking up both bicarbonate and CO2 as a carbon source for photosynthesis, kelp forests can act as carbon sinks, reducing nearby acidity and increasing dissolved oxygen; creating conditions conducive to calcification. Recent stressors, however, have reduced kelp forest canopies globally; converting once large and persistent forests to fragmented landscapes of small kelp patches. In a two-year study, we determined whether fragmented kelp patches retained the ability to alter local seawater chemistry. We found that diel fluctuations of multiple parameters of carbonate chemistry were greater in the kelp canopy than in the kelp benthos and in adjacent urchin barrens, consistent with metabolic activity by the kelp. Further, kelp fragments increased pH and aragonite saturation and decreased pCO2 during the day to a similar degree as large, intact kelp forests. We conclude that small kelp patches could mitigate OA stress and serve as spatial and temporal refugia for canopy-dwelling organisms, though this effect is temporary and confined to daylight hours during the growing season.

Continue reading ‘Fragmented kelp forest canopies retain their ability to alter local seawater chemistry’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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