Posts Tagged 'Antarctic'

A review on the biodiversity, distribution and trophic role of cephalopods in the Arctic and Antarctic marine ecosystems under a changing ocean

Cephalopods play an important role in polar marine ecosystems. In this review, we compare the biodiversity, distribution and trophic role of cephalopods in the Arctic and in the Antarctic. Thirty-two species have been reported from the Arctic, 62 if the Pacific Subarctic is included, with only two species distributed across both these Arctic areas. In comparison, 54 species are known from the Antarctic. These polar regions share 15 families and 13 genera of cephalopods, with the giant squid Architeuthis dux the only species confirmed to occur in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Polar cephalopods prey on crustaceans, fish, and other cephalopods (including cannibalism), whereas predators include fish, other cephalopods, seabirds, seals and whales. In terms of differences between the cephalopod predators in the polar regions, more Antarctic seabird species feed on cephalopods than Arctic seabirds species, whereas more Arctic mammal species feed on cephalopods than Antarctic mammal species. Cephalopods from these regions are likely to be more influenced by climate change than those from the rest of the World: Arctic fauna is more subjected to increasing temperatures per se, with these changes leading to increased species ranges and probably abundance. Antarctic species are likely to be influenced by changes in (1) mesoscale oceanography (2) the position of oceanic fronts (3) sea ice extent, and (4) ocean acidification. Polar cephalopods may have the capacity to adapt to changes in their environment, but more studies are required on taxonomy, distribution, ocean acidification and ecology.

Continue reading ‘A review on the biodiversity, distribution and trophic role of cephalopods in the Arctic and Antarctic marine ecosystems under a changing ocean’

Ocean acidification changes the structure of an Antarctic coastal protistan community (update)

Antarctic near-shore waters are amongst the most sensitive in the world to ocean acidification. Microbes occupying these waters are critical drivers of ecosystem productivity, elemental cycling and ocean biogeochemistry, yet little is known about their sensitivity to ocean acidification. A six-level, dose–response experiment was conducted using 650 L incubation tanks (minicosms) adjusted to a gradient in fugacity of carbon dioxide (fCO2) from 343 to 1641 µatm. The six minicosms were filled with near-shore water from Prydz Bay, East Antarctica, and the protistan composition and abundance was determined by microscopy during 18 days of incubation. No CO2-related change in the protistan community composition was observed during the initial 8 day acclimation period under low light. Thereafter, the response of both autotrophic and heterotrophic protists to fCO2 was species-specific. The response of diatoms was mainly cell size related; microplanktonic diatoms ( >  20 µm) increased in abundance with low to moderate fCO2 (343–634 µatm) but decreased at fCO2  ≥  953 µatm. Similarly, the abundance of Phaeocystis antarctica increased with increasing fCO2 peaking at 634 µatm. Above this threshold the abundance of micro-sized diatoms and P. antarctica fell dramatically, and nanoplanktonic diatoms ( ≤  20 µm) dominated, therefore culminating in a significant change in the protistan community composition. Comparisons of these results with previous experiments conducted at this site show that the fCO2 thresholds are similar, despite seasonal and interannual differences in the physical and biotic environment. This suggests that near-shore microbial communities are likely to change significantly near the end of this century if anthropogenic CO2 release continues unabated, with profound ramifications for near-shore Antarctic ecosystem food webs and biogeochemical cycling.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification changes the structure of an Antarctic coastal protistan community (update)’

Behavioural responses of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) to CO2-induced ocean acidification: would krill really notice?

The Southern Ocean is expected to be significantly affected by future ocean acidification. Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is the key species of the Southern Ocean ecosystem. Understanding their behavioural responses to acidification is critical for assessing the impacts of ocean acidification on the ecosystem. Adult Antarctic krill reared in different holding tanks with various CO2 levels for 6 months prior to the experiments were tested for their behavioural responses to different carbon dioxide partial pressures (pCO2) (400, 1000, 1500, 2000, and 4000 μatm pCO2) in a two-channel flume. The time krill occupied either of the flume channels (with high or ambient CO2 levels) was highly variable in all tests. In most cases no significant preference to either side of the flume was found. The krill did not display any systematic discrimination to the sea water with different CO2 levels regardless of the CO2 levels that krill were acclimated for in the 6 months prior to the experiment. Poor ability to discriminate high CO2 waters may have an important implication to their life history in the future as ocean acidification rapidly progresses in parts of Southern Ocean.

Continue reading ‘Behavioural responses of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) to CO2-induced ocean acidification: would krill really notice?’

Microalgal photophysiology and macronutrient distribution in summer sea ice in the Amundsen and Ross Seas, Antarctica

Our study addresses how environmental variables, such as macronutrients concentrations, snow cover, carbonate chemistry and salinity affect the photophysiology and biomass of Antarctic sea-ice algae. We have measured vertical profiles of inorganic macronutrients (phosphate, nitrite + nitrate and silicic acid) in summer sea ice and photophysiology of ice algal assemblages in the poorly studied Amundsen and Ross Seas sectors of the Southern Ocean. Brine-scaled bacterial abundance, chl a and macronutrient concentrations were often high in the ice and positively correlated with each other. Analysis of photosystem II rapid light curves showed that microalgal cells in samples with high phosphate and nitrite + nitrate concentrations had reduced maximum relative electron transport rate and photosynthetic efficiency. We also observed strong couplings of PSII parameters to snow depth, ice thickness and brine salinity, which highlights a wide range of photoacclimation in Antarctic pack-ice algae. It is likely that the pack ice was in a post-bloom situation during the late sea-ice season, with low photosynthetic efficiency and a high degree of nutrient accumulation occurring in the ice. In order to predict how key biogeochemical processes are affected by future changes in sea ice cover, such as in situ photosynthesis and nutrient cycling, we need to understand how physicochemical properties of sea ice affect the microbial community. Our results support existing hypothesis about sea-ice algal photophysiology, and provide additional observations on high nutrient concentrations in sea ice that could influence the planktonic communities as the ice is retreating.

Continue reading ‘Microalgal photophysiology and macronutrient distribution in summer sea ice in the Amundsen and Ross Seas, Antarctica’

Response of Antarctic sea-ice algae to an experimental decrease in pH: a preliminary analysis from chlorophyll fluorescence imaging of melting ice

Microorganisms confined to annual sea ice in the Southern Ocean are exposed to highly variable oxygen and carbonate chemistry dynamics because of the seasonal increase in biomass and limited exchange with the underlying water column. For sea-ice algae, physiological stress is likely to be exacerbated when the ice melts; however, variation in carbonate speciation has rarely been monitored during this important state-transition. Using pulse amplitude modulated fluorometry (Imaging-PAM, Walz), we documented in situ changes in the maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) of sea-ice algae melting out into seawater with initial pH values ranging from 7.66 to 6.39. Although the process of ice-melt elevated seawater pH by 0.2–0.55 units, we observed a decrease in Fv/Fm between 0.02 and 0.06 for each unit drop in pH during real-time fluorescence imaging. These results are considered preliminary but provide context for including carbonate chemistry monitoring in the design of future sea ice state-transition experiments. Imaging-PAM is a reliable technology for determining Fv/Fm, but is of limited use for obtaining additional photosynthetic parameters when imaging melting ice.

Continue reading ‘Response of Antarctic sea-ice algae to an experimental decrease in pH: a preliminary analysis from chlorophyll fluorescence imaging of melting ice’

Inter and intraspecific comparisons of the skeletal Mg/Ca ratios of high latitude Antarctic echinoderms

Echinoderms are vulnerable to ocean acidification because of their high magnesium calcite skeletons. Here, skeletal Mg/Ca ratios were examined within and between individuals of 20 Antarctic echinoderms representative of the asteroids, ophiuroids and echinoids. The highest mean Mg/Ca ratios occurred in the discs and arms (0.111 and 0.110, respectively) of brittle-stars and the lowest in the spines (0.010) of cidaroid sea urchins. Many taxa (11 of 14 species) from the collection sites showed no intraspecific differences in Mg/Ca ratios between given skeletal components. Exceptions were the spines of two regular sea urchins and the skeletal ossicles of the combined arms and disc of a brittle-star. The relationship between skeletal magnesium content and latitude was further evaluated and an inverse correlation was found between Antarctic echinoderm taxa skeletal magnesium content and latitude across 62° to 76°, indicating that the relationship occurs over relatively narrow latitudes. Upon examination of an even narrower range (70–76° latitude), a region where the mineralogy of echinoderm skeletons has not been investigated, the predicted inverse relationship between Mg/Ca ratio and latitude was still observed in sea-stars, but not in brittle-stars or sea urchins.

Continue reading ‘Inter and intraspecific comparisons of the skeletal Mg/Ca ratios of high latitude Antarctic echinoderms’

Carbonate chemistry of an in-situ free-ocean CO2 enrichment experiment (antFOCE) in comparison to short term variation in Antarctic coastal waters

Free-ocean CO2 enrichment (FOCE) experiments have been deployed in marine ecosystems to manipulate carbonate system conditions to those predicted in future oceans. We investigated whether the pH/carbonate chemistry of extremely cold polar waters can be manipulated in an ecologically relevant way, to represent conditions under future atmospheric CO2 levels, in an in-situ FOCE experiment in Antarctica. We examined spatial and temporal variation in local ambient carbonate chemistry at hourly intervals at two sites between December and February and compared these with experimental conditions. We successfully maintained a mean pH offset in acidified benthic chambers of −0.38 (±0.07) from ambient for approximately 8 weeks. Local diel and seasonal fluctuations in ambient pH were duplicated in the FOCE system. Large temporal variability in acidified chambers resulted from system stoppages. The mean pH, Ωarag and fCO2 values in the acidified chambers were 7.688 ± 0.079, 0.62 ± 0.13 and 912 ± 150 µatm, respectively. Variation in ambient pH appeared to be mainly driven by salinity and biological production and ranged from 8.019 to 8.192 with significant spatio-temporal variation. This experiment demonstrates the utility of FOCE systems to create conditions expected in future oceans that represent ecologically relevant variation, even under polar conditions.

Continue reading ‘Carbonate chemistry of an in-situ free-ocean CO2 enrichment experiment (antFOCE) in comparison to short term variation in Antarctic coastal waters’


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