Posts Tagged 'annelids'

Marine gametes in a changing ocean: Impacts of climate change stressors on fecundity and the egg

In marine invertebrates, the environmental history of the mother can influence fecundity and egg size. Acclimation of females in climate change stressors, increased temperature and low pH, results in a decrease in egg number and size in many taxa, with the exception of cephalopods, where eggs increase in size. With respect to spawned eggs, near future levels of ocean acidification can interfere with the eggs’ block to polyspermy and intracellular pH. Reduction of the extracellular egg jelly coat seen in low pH conditions has implications for impaired egg function and fertilization. Some fast generation species (e.g. copepods, polychaetes) have shown restoration of female reproductive output after several generations in treatments. It will be important to determine if the changes to egg number and size induced by exposure to climate change stressors are heritable.

Continue reading ‘Marine gametes in a changing ocean: Impacts of climate change stressors on fecundity and the egg’

Impact of predicted climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community

Changes in marine communities in response to elevated CO2 have been reported but information on how representatives of the benthic lower trophic levels will be impacted remains scarce. A laboratory experiment was conducted to evaluate the impact of different climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community. Samples of the meiofauna community were collected from the coral reef subtidal zone of Serrambi beach (Ipojuca, Pernambuco, Brazil), using artificial substrate units. The units were exposed to control treatments and to three climate change scenarios, and collected after 15 and 29 d. Important changes in the meiofauna community structure were observed after 15 d of exposure. The major meiofauna groups exhibited divergent responses to the various scenarios. Although polychaetes were negatively affected after 29 d in the most severe scenario (Scenario III), harpacticoid copepods were negatively affected in Scenarios II and III after 15 and 29 d. Harpacticoid nauplii were strongly and negatively affected in all scenarios. In contrast, Nematoda exhibited higher densities in all scenarios. To the best of our knowledge, this community-based study was the first to observe how meiofauna organisms from a coral reef environment react to the synergetic effects of reductions in seawater pH and increased temperature.

Continue reading ‘Impact of predicted climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community’

Tropical CO2 seeps reveal the impact of ocean acidification on coral reef invertebrate recruitment


  • CO2 seeps at two coral reefs in Papua New Guinea were used as natural analogues of ocean acidification.
  • Elevated CO2 affected recruitment in marine invertebrate communities.
  • Calcified recruits of reef-dwelling Foraminifera, polychaetes, gastropods, and bivalves were vulnerable to acidification.
  • Amphipods and copepods, which are important prey taxa, were adversely affected by acidification caused by elevated CO2.


Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing ocean acidification by reducing seawater pH and carbonate saturation levels. Laboratory studies have demonstrated that many larval and juvenile marine invertebrates are vulnerable to these changes in surface ocean chemistry, but challenges remain in predicting effects at community and ecosystem levels. We investigated the effect of ocean acidification on invertebrate recruitment at two coral reef CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. Invertebrate communities differed significantly between ‘reference’ (median pH 7.97, 8.00), ‘high CO2’ (median pH 7.77, 7.79), and ‘extreme CO2’ (median pH 7.32, 7.68) conditions at each reef. There were also significant reductions in calcifying taxa, copepods and amphipods as CO2 levels increased. The observed shifts in recruitment were comparable to those previously described in the Mediterranean, revealing an ecological mechanism by which shallow coastal systems are affected by near-future levels of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Tropical CO2 seeps reveal the impact of ocean acidification on coral reef invertebrate recruitment’

Short-term effects of CO2-induced low pH exposure on target gene expression in Platynereis dumerilii

Objective: Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration are causing changes to the seawater carbonate chemistry, lowering the pH and we study potential impacts of these changes at the molecular level in a non-calcifying, marine polychaete species Platynereis dumerilii.

Methods: We investigate the relative expression of carbonic anhydrase (CA), Na+/H+ exchangers (NHE), and calmodulin (CaM) genes from P. dumerilii under acidified seawater conditions (pH 7.8) induced by CO2 using qPCR.

Results: mRNA expression of CA in the CO2-induced worms was significantly up-regulated at low pH conditions (pH 7.8, 1h), suggesting changes in acid-base balance. In contrast, the expression of NHE and CaM showed no significant change. In addition, we compare these results to a previous study using inorganic acid (HCl)-induced pH changes.

Conclusions: Results suggest that carbonate chemistry has an impact on gene expression that differs from pH-associated change. To our knowledge, this is the first study that compares low pH exposure experiments using HCl and CO2 as the inducing agents.

Continue reading ‘Short-term effects of CO2-induced low pH exposure on target gene expression in Platynereis dumerilii’

Can multi-generational exposure to ocean warming and acidification lead to the adaptation of life-history and physiology in a marine metazoan?

Ocean warming and acidification are concomitant global drivers that are currently threatening the survival of marine organisms. How species will respond to these changes depends on their capacity for plastic and adaptive responses. Little is known about the mechanisms that govern plasticity and adaptability or how global changes will influence these relationships across multiple generations. Here, we exposed the emerging model marine polychaete Ophryotrocha labronica to conditions simulating ocean warming and acidification, in isolation and in combination over five generations to identify: (i) how multiple versus single global change drivers alter both juvenile and adult life-traits; (ii) the mechanistic link between adult physiological and fitness-related life-history traits; (iii) whether observed phenotypic changes observed over multiple generations are of plastic and/or adaptive origin. Two juvenile (developmental rate; survival to sexual maturity) and two adult (average reproductive body size; fecundity) life-history traits were measured in each generation, in addition to three physiological (cellular reactive oxygen species content, mitochondrial density; mitochondrial capacity) traits. We found that multi-generational exposure to warming alone caused an increase in: juvenile developmental rate, reactive oxygen species production and mitochondrial density and decreases in: average reproductive body size, fecundity and fluctuations in mitochondrial capacity, relative to control conditions. While exposure to ocean acidification alone, had only minor effects on juvenile developmental rate. Remarkably, when both drivers of global change were present, only mitochondrial capacity was significantly affected, suggesting that ocean warming and acidification act as opposing vectors of stress across multiple generations.

Continue reading ‘Can multi-generational exposure to ocean warming and acidification lead to the adaptation of life-history and physiology in a marine metazoan?’

Enhanced macroboring and depressed calcification drive net dissolution at high-CO2 coral reefs

Ocean acidification (OA) impacts the physiology of diverse marine taxa; among them corals that create complex reef framework structures. Biological processes operating on coral reef frameworks remain largely unknown from naturally high-carbon-dioxide (CO2) ecosystems. For the first time, we independently quantified the response of multiple functional groups instrumental in the construction and erosion of these frameworks (accretion, macroboring, microboring, and grazing) along natural OA gradients. We deployed blocks of dead coral skeleton for roughly 2 years at two reefs in Papua New Guinea, each experiencing volcanically enriched CO2, and employed high-resolution micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) to create three-dimensional models of changing skeletal structure. OA conditions were correlated with decreased calcification and increased macroboring, primarily by annelids, representing a group of bioeroders not previously known to respond to OA. Incubation of these blocks, using the alkalinity anomaly methodology, revealed a switch from net calcification to net dissolution at a pH of roughly 7.8, within Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) predictions for global ocean waters by the end of the century. Together these data represent the first comprehensive experimental study of bioerosion and calcification from a naturally high-CO2 reef ecosystem, where the processes of accelerated erosion and depressed calcification have combined to alter the permanence of this essential framework habitat.

Continue reading ‘Enhanced macroboring and depressed calcification drive net dissolution at high-CO2 coral reefs’

An in situ assessment of local adaptation in a calcifying polychaete from a shallow CO2 vent system

Ocean acidification (OA) is likely to exert selective pressure on natural populations. Our ability to predict which marine species will adapt to OA, and what underlies this adaptive potential, are of high conservation and resource management priority. Using a naturally low pH vent site in the Mediterranean Sea (Castello Aragonese, Ischia) mirroring projected future OA conditions, we carried out a reciprocal transplant experiment to investigate the relative importance of phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation in two populations of the sessile, calcifying polychaete Simplaria sp. (Annelida, Serpulidae, Spirorbinae): one residing in low pH and the other from a nearby ambient (i.e. high) pH site. We measured a suite of fitness related traits (i.e. survival, reproductive output, maturation, population growth) and tube growth rates in laboratory-bred F2 generation individuals from both populations reciprocally transplanted back into both ambient and low pH in situ habitats. Both populations showed lower expression in all traits, but increased tube growth rates, when exposed to low pH compared to high pH conditions, regardless of their site of origin suggesting that local adaptation to low pH conditions has not occurred. We also found comparable levels of plasticity in the two populations investigated, suggesting no influence of long-term exposure to low pH on the ability of populations to adjust their phenotype. Despite high variation in trait values among sites and the relatively extreme conditions at sites close to the vents (pH < 7.36), response trends were consistent across traits. Hence, our data suggest that, for Simplaria and possibly other calcifiers, neither local adaptations nor sufficient phenotypic plasticity levels appear to suffice in order to compensate for the negative impacts of OA on long-term survival. Our work also underlines the utility of field experiments in natural environments subjected to high level of pCO2 for elucidating the potential for adaptation to future scenarios of OA.

Continue reading ‘An in situ assessment of local adaptation in a calcifying polychaete from a shallow CO2 vent system’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book