Posts Tagged 'algae'

Co-culture in marine farms: macroalgae can act as chemical refuge for shell-forming molluscs under an ocean acidification scenario

With ongoing climate change, aquaculture faces environmental challenges similar to those of natural ecosystems. These include increasing stress for calcifying species, e.g. macroalgae and shellfish. In this context, ocean acidification (OA) has the potential to affect important socioeconomic activities, including shellfish aquaculture, due to changes in the seawater carbonate system. However, coastal environments are characterised by strong diurnal pH fluctuations associated with the metabolic activity of macroalgae; that is, photosynthesis and respiration. This suggests that calcifying organisms that inhabit these ecosystems are adapted to this fluctuating pH environment. Macrophyte-dominated environments may have the potential to act as an OA buffering system in the form of a photosynthetic footprint, by reducing excess of CO2 and increasing the seawater pH and Ωarg. This can support calcification and other threatened physiological processes of calcifying organisms under a reduced pH environment. Because this footprint is supportive beyond the macroalgal canopy spatial area, this chemical refuge mechanism can be applied to support shellfish aquaculture, e.g. mussels. However, this approach should be tested in commercial shellfish farms to determine critical aspects of implementation. This includes critical factors such as target species and productivity rates. The degree of OA buffering capacity caused by the metabolic activity of macroalgae might depend on community structure and hydrodynamic conditions, creating site-specific responses. This concept might aid the development of future adaptive strategies, supporting marine ecological planning for the mussel aquaculture industry in Chile.

Continue reading ‘Co-culture in marine farms: macroalgae can act as chemical refuge for shell-forming molluscs under an ocean acidification scenario’

Ocean acidification reduces net calcification and wound healing in the tropical crustose coralline alga, Porolithon onkodes (Corallinales, Rhodophyta)


  • Wounding did not affect net calcification or tissue mortality in Porolithon onkodes.
  • In contrast, elevated pCO2 reduced net calcification and living tissue.
  • Elevated pCO2 also reduced tissue regeneration within wounds.
  • Reduced wound healing under elevated pCO2 could affect the ecology of coralline algae.


Reef dwelling algae employ a variety of physical and chemical defenses against herbivory, and the response to wounding is extremely important in algal communities. Wound healing mechanisms in crustose coralline algae (CCA) are related to skeletal growth and net calcification rate. Ocean acidification (OA) is known to affect rates of net calcification in a number of calcifying organisms, including CCA. Reduced rates of net calcification in CCA are likely to alter wound healing, and thus affect the consequences of herbivore-CCA interactions on coral reefs. The response of the tropical CCA Porolithon onkodes to OA and artificial wounding was quantified in a 51-day laboratory experiment. Eight artificially wounded (cut to a mean depth of 182 μm) and eight non-wounded samples of P. onkodes were randomly placed into each of four treatments (n = 64 samples total). Each treatment was maintained at a different pCO2 level representative of either ambient conditions or end-of-the-century, predicted conditions (IPCC, 2014); 429.31 ± 20.84 (ambient), 636.54 ± 27.29 (RCP4.5), 827.33 ± 38.51 (RCP6.0), and 1179.39 ± 88.85 μatm (RCP8.5; mean ± standard error). Elevated pCO2 significantly reduced rates of net calcification in both wounded and non-wounded samples of P. onkodes (slopes = −6.4 × 10−4 and −5.5 × 10−4 mg cm−2 d−1 per μatm pCO2, respectively over 51 days). There also was a significant reduction in the rate of vertical regeneration of thallus tissue within the wounds as pCO2 increased (slope = −1.5 × 10−3 μm d−1 per μatm pCO2 over 51 days). This study provides evidence that elevated pCO2 could reduce the ability of this important alga to recover from wounding. Because wounding by herbivores plays an important role in determining CCA community structure, we propose reduced wound healing as a mechanism by which OA might affect the structure and functional roles of CCA communities on coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification reduces net calcification and wound healing in the tropical crustose coralline alga, Porolithon onkodes (Corallinales, Rhodophyta)’

Flow-driven micro-scale pH variability affects the physiology of corals and coralline algae under ocean acidification

Natural variability in pH in the diffusive boundary layer (DBL), the discrete layer of seawater between bulk seawater and the outer surface of organisms, could be an important factor determining the response of corals and coralline algae to ocean acidification (OA). Here, two corals with different morphologies and one coralline alga were maintained under two different regimes of flow velocities, pH, and light intensities in a 12 flumes experimental system for a period of 27 weeks. We used a combination of geochemical proxies, physiological and micro-probe measurements to assess how these treatments affected the conditions in the DBL and the response of organisms to OA. Overall, low flow velocity did not ameliorate the negative effect of low pH and therefore did not provide a refugia from OA. Flow velocity had species-specific effects with positive effects on calcification for two species. pH in the calcifying fluid (pHcf) was reduced by low flow in both corals at low light only. pHcf was significantly impacted by pH in the DBL for the two species capable of significantly modifying pH in the DBL. The dissolved inorganic carbon in the calcifying fluid (DICcf) was highest under low pH for the corals and low flow for the coralline, while the saturation state in the calcifying fluid and its proxy (FWHM) were generally not affected by the treatments. This study therefore demonstrates that the effects of OA will manifest most severely in a combination of lower light and lower flow habitats for sub-tropical coralline algae. These effects will also be greatest in lower flow habitats for some corals. Together with existing literature, these findings reinforce that the effects of OA are highly context dependent, and will differ greatly between habitats, and depending on species composition.

Continue reading ‘Flow-driven micro-scale pH variability affects the physiology of corals and coralline algae under ocean acidification’

The combined effects of ocean acidification with fleshy macroalgae and filamentous turfs on tropical crustose coralline algae

Global climate change induces multiple stressors on tropical coral reefs that threaten their persistence. Ocean acidification decreases calcification in most dominant reef builders, such as crustose coralline algae (CCA). Climate change also has the potential to increase the biomass of fleshy macroalgae and filamentous turf in coral reef ecosystems. While fleshy macroalgae and turf may shade, abrade, and have otherwise negative consequences on CCA metabolism, their high rates of photosynthesis may mitigate OA locally through carbon uptake, resulting in a local increase in pH. This thesis explored the effects of OA, combined with the presence of either fleshy macroalgae or algal turfs, on Lithophyllum kotschyanum, an abundant species of CCA in Moorea, French Polynesia. In a mesocosm study, three canopy types, clear mimics, dark mimics, and S. pacificum, were crossed with two CO2 levels, ambient (400 μatm) and elevated (1000 μatm). The clear, dark, and S. pacificum canopies resulted in stepwise decreases in calcification of L. kotschyanum. This response suggests that shading and likely flow moderation decrease CCA calcification. To separate the effects of fleshy macroalgal metabolism from the effects of its physical structure, a subsequent mesocosm and field experiment were performed. In the mesocosm study, a header tank that provided S. pacificum-treated seawater to treatment tanks was used to determine the metabolic effect of S. pacificum on L. kotschyanum. In the field, S. pacificum canopies were attached to 20  30 cm grids, upstream from CCA samples. Data from the mesocosm study support a positive effect of carbon uptake by S. pacificum, but the metabolic effect did not translate into the field. Because S. pacificum was placed in closer proximity to CCA samples in the field than in lab, the difference in L. kotschyanum calcification between the mesocosm and field experiment may be due to physical effects of the canopy in the field, such as shading. The combined results of these two studies suggest that upstream macroalgal communities have the potential to mitigate the negative effects of OA to downstream calcifiers, but will not benefit understory calcifiers. Finally, a mesocosm experiment was conducted to address the combined effects of OA and the presence of epiphytic turf algae on host CCA. In a factorial experiment, L. kotschyanum samples with and without epiphytic turf algae were placed in flow through tanks where pCO2 was ambient (400 μatm) or elevated (1000 μatm). Results indicated a significant effect of elevated pCO2 on CCA calcification and a negative effect of turf presence, despite a higher pH in the presence of turf during light incubations. This indicates that any benefit of higher daytime pH within the DBL of L. kotschyanum was outweighed by the negative effects, such as shading, nighttime anoxia and low pH. Overall, these studies indicate that fleshy macroalgae and filamentous turfs can raise seawater pH locally, but any benefit of this effect is outweighed by the negative effects of fleshy macroalgae and turf presence. The only instance during which CCA may incur a net benefit from fleshy macroalgae occurs when calcifiers are situated downstream of a dense macroalgal community, entirely unaffected by its physical structure. Ultimately, fleshy macroalgae and turf affect CCA negatively, regardless of OA treatment.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of ocean acidification with fleshy macroalgae and filamentous turfs on tropical crustose coralline algae’

Algal communities: an answer to global climate change

Human activities and resultant changes in global climate have profound consequences for ecosystems and economic and social systems, including those that are dependent upon marine systems. The increasing concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) has resulted in gradual modification of multiple aspects of marine ecosystem properties such as salinity, temperature, and pH. It is well known that temporal and spatial variations in environmental properties determine the composition and abundance of different algal populations in a region. Within the present study the evidence for algal compatibility to changing environmental conditions is surveyed. The unique ability of algal communities to play a role in promotion of CO2 sequestration technologies, biorefinery approaches, as well as transition to CO2‐neutral renewable energy has gained traction with environmentalists and economists in a view to mitigation of climate change using algae. The next step is to re‐evaluate the assumption of a steady‐state oceanic carbon cycle and the role of biological activities in response to future climate changes.

Continue reading ‘Algal communities: an answer to global climate change’

Chemical microenvironments within macroalgal assemblages: implications for the inhibition of kelp recruitment by turf algae

Kelp forests around the world are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic stressors. A widespread consequence is that in many places, complex and highly productive kelp habitats have been replaced by structurally simple and less productive turf algae habitats. Turf algae habitats resist re‐establishment of kelp via recruitment inhibition; however, little is known about the specific mechanisms involved. One potential factor is the chemical environment within the turf algae and into which kelp propagules settle and develop. Using laboratory trials, we illustrate that the chemical microenvironment (O2 concentration and pH) 0.0–50 mm above the substratum within four multispecies macroalgal assemblages (including a turf‐sediment assemblage and an Ecklonia radiata kelp‐dominated assemblage) are characterized by elevated O2 and pH relative to the surrounding seawater. Notably however, O2 and pH were significantly higher within turf‐sediment assemblages than in kelp‐dominated assemblages, and at levels that have previously been demonstrated to impair the photosynthetic or physiological capacity of kelp propagules. Field observations of the experimental assemblages confirmed that recruitment of kelp was significantly lower into treatments with dense turf algae than in the kelp‐dominated assemblages. We demonstrate differences between the chemical microenvironments of kelp and turf algae assemblages that correlate with differences in kelp recruitment, highlighting how degradation of kelp habitats might result in the persistence of turf algae habitats and the localized absence of kelp.

Continue reading ‘Chemical microenvironments within macroalgal assemblages: implications for the inhibition of kelp recruitment by turf algae’

Role of seaweeds in neutralizing the impact of seawater acidification- A laboratory study with beached shells of certain bivalves and spines of a sea urchin

Ocean acidification is one of the major impacts of climate change in sea which is manifested by the decrease in hydrogen ion concentration (pH) of seawater mainly due to increased uptake of CO2 and reduction in carbonate ions. This is a report on the dissolution rate of dead shells of four marine bivalves and spines of a sea urchin when treated with different levels of CO2 dissolved in seawater for 48 hours which was measured gravimetrically. Dissolution of dead shells expressed as reduction in shell weight was directly proportional to the concentration of dissolved CO2. Live thallus of green seaweed Chaetomorpha antennina did reduce the magnitude of dissolution rates (P<0.05) of all the shells and spines considerably as well as the change in pH of ambient seawater due to the addition of CO2. The remedial property of seaweeds was more effective at lower concentrations of dissolved CO2. The induced change in pH was restored by green seaweed only at concentrations above 250 ppm. Although we noticed strong impact of dissolved CO2 on the dead shells of Mactrinula plicataria even at 100 ppm level, the remedial action by the green seaweed was maximum in Siliqua radiata followed by Perna viridis. Results of this laboratory study shows the positive role of seaweeds in neutralizing the acidification impacts.

Continue reading ‘Role of seaweeds in neutralizing the impact of seawater acidification- A laboratory study with beached shells of certain bivalves and spines of a sea urchin’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book