Posts Tagged 'algae'

The effects of mining tailings in the physiology of benthic algae: understanding the relation between mud’s inductive acidification and the heavy metal’s toxicity

Highlights

• Mariana’s mud was evaluated for toxic effects of heavy metals and acidification.

• Sargassum cymosum and Hypnea musciformis were evaluated for physiological responses.

• The presence of mud and acidic conditions caused lethality and metabolic damages.

• The acidified condition had the greatest impact over physiology of both species.

• The toxicity effects of mining tailings are intensified by abiotic changes.

Abstract

The direct and indirect effects of mining tailing on macroalgae were evaluated in vitro to determine the relationship between heavy metals toxicity and pH alterations caused by the presence of pollutants. The marine brown seaweed Sargassum cymosum (C. Hagard 1820) and its main epiphytic alga, the red seaweed Hypnea pseudomusciformis (Nauer, Cassano, Oliveira, 2015), were exposed to Mariana’s mud in cross treatments, including presence or absence of mud, and normal (˜8.0) or acidic (˜7.0) pH conditions. The effects of different biological conditions were also evaluated in two treatments, with seaweed in isolated or associative conditions, for a seven-day period. The measured variables were growth rates and metabolic descriptors, such as chlorophyll a, phenolic compounds, total proteins, and the analysis of enzymatic activity, e.g. catalase (CAT), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX), and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Kruskal-Wallis and post-hoc Dunn’s test were performed to evaluate the significant differences among treatments and biological conditions. Decreased growth rates in treatments with presence of mud or in acidic conditions were detected and probably related to deviations of metabolic energy towards the synthesis of defensive metabolites. Especially in the acidified culture medium, both algae species presented significant declines in pigments concentration, antioxidant compounds and an accentuated inhibition of enzymatic activity. The algal association was not beneficial for either species and H. pseudomusciformis was responsible for reducing the defensive ability of Sargassum against stressors. Considering the results, we infer that the physiological ability of both algae to resist metals and/or acidified conditions was affected not only by their mutual interference in each other, but also by the interaction between the abiotic parameters evaluated in this study.

Continue reading ‘The effects of mining tailings in the physiology of benthic algae: understanding the relation between mud’s inductive acidification and the heavy metal’s toxicity’

Short-term effects of hypoxia are more important than effects of ocean acidification on grazing interactions with juvenile giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera)

Species interactions are crucial for the persistence of ecosystems. Within vegetated habitats, early life stages of plants and algae must survive factors such as grazing to recover from disturbances. However, grazing impacts on early stages, especially under the context of a rapidly changing climate, are largely unknown. Here we examine interaction strengths between juvenile giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) and four common grazers under hypoxia and ocean acidification using short-term laboratory experiments and field data of grazer abundances to estimate population-level grazing impacts. We found that grazing is a significant source of mortality for juvenile kelp and, using field abundances, estimate grazers can remove on average 15.4% and a maximum of 73.9% of juveniles per m2 per day. Short-term exposure to low oxygen, not acidification, weakened interaction strengths across the four species and decreased estimated population-level impacts of grazing threefold, from 15.4% to 4.0% of juvenile kelp removed, on average, per m2 per day. This study highlights potentially high juvenile kelp mortality from grazing. We also show that the effects of hypoxia are stronger than the effects of acidification in weakening these grazing interactions over short timescales, with possible future consequences for the persistence of giant kelp and energy flow through these highly productive food webs.

Continue reading ‘Short-term effects of hypoxia are more important than effects of ocean acidification on grazing interactions with juvenile giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera)’

Recent density decline in wild-collected subarctic crustose coralline algae reveals climate change signature

Warming surface ocean temperatures combined with the continued diffusion of atmospheric CO2 into seawater have been shown to have detrimental impacts on calcareous marine organisms in tropical and temperate localities. However, greater oceanic CO2 uptake in higher latitudes may present a higher oceanic acidification risk to carbonate organisms residing in Arctic and subarctic habitats. This is especially true for crustose coralline algae that build their skeletons using high-Mg calcite, which is among the least stable and most soluble of the carbonate minerals. Here we present a century-long annually resolved growth, density, and calcification rate record from the crustose coralline alga Clathromorphum nereostratum, a dominant calcifier in Pacific Arctic and subarctic benthic communities. Specimens were collected from the Aleutian Islands, Alaska (USA), a region that has undergone a long-term decline of 0.08 ± 0.01 pH units since the late 19th century. Growth and calcification rates remain relatively stable throughout the record, but skeletal densities have declined substantially since A.D. 1983. Strong correlations to warming sea-surface temperatures indicate that temperature stress may play a significant role in influencing the ability of corallines to calcify. Decreasing algal skeletal density may offset the benefits of continued growth and calcification due to a weakening in structural integrity, which could have detrimental consequences for the diverse reef-like communities associated with algal structures in mid-to-high latitudes.

Continue reading ‘Recent density decline in wild-collected subarctic crustose coralline algae reveals climate change signature’

Resistance of seagrass habitats to ocean acidification via altered interactions in a tri-trophic chain

Despite the wide knowledge about prevalent effects of ocean acidification on single species, the consequences on species interactions that may promote or prevent habitat shifts are still poorly understood. Using natural CO2 vents, we investigated changes in a key tri-trophic chain embedded within all its natural complexity in seagrass systems. We found that seagrass habitats remain stable at vents despite the changes in their tri-trophic components. Under high pCO2, the feeding of a key herbivore (sea urchin) on a less palatable seagrass and its associated epiphytes decreased, whereas the feeding on higher-palatable green algae increased. We also observed a doubled density of a predatory wrasse under acidified conditions. Bottom-up CO2 effects interact with top-down control by predators to maintain the abundance of sea urchin populations under ambient and acidified conditions. The weakened urchin herbivory on a seagrass that was subjected to an intense fish herbivory at vents compensates the overall herbivory pressure on the habitat-forming seagrass. Overall plasticity of the studied system components may contribute to prevent habitat loss and to stabilize the system under acidified conditions. Thus, preserving the network of species interactions in seagrass ecosystems may help to minimize the impacts of ocean acidification in near-future oceans.

Continue reading ‘Resistance of seagrass habitats to ocean acidification via altered interactions in a tri-trophic chain’

Model simulation of seasonal growth of Fucus vesiculosus in its benthic community

Numerical models are a suitable tool to quantify impacts of predicted climate change on complex ecosystems but are rarely used to study effects on benthic macroalgal communities. Fucus vesiculosus L. is a habitat‐forming macroalga in the Baltic Sea and alarming shifts from the perennial Fucus community to annual filamentous algae are reported. We developed a box model able to simulate the seasonal growth of the Baltic Fucus–grazer–epiphyte system. This required the implementation of two state variables for Fucus biomass in units of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Model equations describe relevant physiological and ecological processes, such as storage of C and N assimilates by Fucus, shading effects of epiphytes or grazing by herbivores on both Fucus and epiphytes, but with species‐specific rates and preferences. Parametrizations of the model equations and required initial conditions were based on measured parameters and process rates in the near‐natural Kiel Outdoor Benthocosm (KOB) experiments during the Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification project. To validate the model, we compared simulation results with observations in the KOB experiment that lasted from April 2013 until March 2014 under ambient and climate‐change scenarios, that is, increased atmospheric temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide. The model reproduced the magnitude and seasonal cycles of Fucus growth and other processes in the KOBs over 1 yr under different scenarios. Now having established the Fucus model, it will be possible to better highlight the actual threat of climate change to the Fucus community in the shallow nearshore waters of the Baltic Sea.

Continue reading ‘Model simulation of seasonal growth of Fucus vesiculosus in its benthic community’

Shifts in coralline algae, macroalgae, and coral juveniles in the Great Barrier Reef associated with present‐day ocean acidification

Seawater acidification from increasing CO2 is often enhanced in coastal waters due to elevated nutrients and sedimentation. Our understanding of the effects of ocean and coastal acidification on present‐day ecosystems is limited. Here we use data from three independent large‐scale reef monitoring programs to assess coral reef responses associated with changes in mean aragonite saturation state (Ωar) in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBR). Spatial declines in mean Ωar are associated with monotonic declines in crustose coralline algae (up to 3.1‐fold) and coral juvenile densities (1.3‐fold), while non‐calcifying macroalgae greatly increase (up to 3.2‐fold), additionally to their natural changes across and along the GBR. These three key groups of organisms are important proxies for coral reef health. Our data suggest a tipping point at Ωar 3.5–3.6 for these coral reef health indicators. Suspended sediments acted as an additive stressor. The latter suggests that effective water quality management to reduce suspended sediments might locally and temporarily reduce the pressure from ocean acidification on these organisms.

Continue reading ‘Shifts in coralline algae, macroalgae, and coral juveniles in the Great Barrier Reef associated with present‐day ocean acidification’

A high biodiversity mitigates the impact of ocean acidification on hard-bottom ecosystems

Biodiversity loss and climate change simultaneously threaten marine ecosystems, yet their interactions remain largely unknown. Ocean acidification severely affects a wide variety of marine organisms and recent studies have predicted major impacts at the pH conditions expected for 2100. However, despite the renowned interdependence between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, the hypothesis that the species’ response to ocean acidification could differ based on the biodiversity of the natural multispecies assemblages in which they live remains untested. Here, using experimentally controlled conditions, we investigated the impact of acidification on key habitat-forming organisms (including corals, sponges and macroalgae) and associated microbes in hard-bottom assemblages characterised by different biodiversity levels. Our results indicate that, at higher biodiversity, the impact of acidification on otherwise highly vulnerable key organisms can be reduced by 50 to >90%, depending on the species. Here we show that such a positive effect of a higher biodiversity can be associated with higher availability of food resources and healthy microbe-host associations, overall increasing host resistance to acidification, while contrasting harmful outbreaks of opportunistic microbes. Given the climate change scenarios predicted for the future, we conclude that biodiversity conservation of hard-bottom ecosystems is fundamental also for mitigating the impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘A high biodiversity mitigates the impact of ocean acidification on hard-bottom ecosystems’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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